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Australia: NMIT turns 100 today

Today marks 100 years since NMIT’s (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) predecessor, Collingwood Technical School, opened the doors to public vocational education in Victoria.

NMIT traces its origins back to the establishment of the Collingwood Technical School in 1912 and the subsequent amalgamation of the Preston and Collingwood Colleges of TAFE (formerly Preston and Collingwood Technical Schools) in 1988.

Collingwood Technical School was a flagship for educational innovation in Victoria as it was the first Victorian Education Department school to be modelled on the late nineteenth century German concept of providing pre-vocational education to school-age children plus evening classes for working youth and adults.

However, 100 years ago formal vocational education was a relatively new concept in post-federation Australia and educational pioneers like Collingwood Technical School’s foundation principal, Matthew Richmond, had to resort to radical measures to ensure their schools survived. Richmond was well known for striding up and down Johnston Street (Collingwood) ringing a cowbell in a desperate effort to attract students to his fledgling technical school.

One hundred years on, and in a recently ‘contestable’ vocational education market subject to government reform initiatives and severe budget cuts, Victorian TAFEs may yet need to dust off their cowbells.

“Over the past century NMIT has evolved through many stages – from a junior technical school with 57 students in one of Melbourne’s toughest early 20th century suburbs to the amalgamation with Preston College of TAFE in 1988 and ultimately becoming the largest provider of vocational education in Melbourne’s north,” said NMIT CEO, Dr Andy Giddy.

To mark its centenary NMIT is publishing information about its history and the general rise of vocational education in Victoria on a special centenary website www.nmit.edu.au/centenary The online chronology currently charts the Institute’s development up until the 1970s with research into later decades continuing.

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