The Victorian College of the Arts has a distinguished history. Our foundation school, the School of Art, was originally the National Gallery of Victoria Art School, which admitted its first students in 1867. The School’s graduates went on to become some of Australia’s most significant artists and include Fred McCubbin, Tom Roberts, Rupert Bunney, Arthur Boyd, Clara Southern, Margaret Preston, Joy Hester, Clifton Pugh and Fred Williams.

In 1972 the VCA was proclaimed, and in 1973 the School of Art became the first school of the Victorian College of the Arts, to be joined one year later by the School of Music. The School of Drama was established in 1975 and the School of Dance in 1979. In 1966 Swinburne Institute of Technology set up a School of Film and Television and at the beginning of 1992 the School became part of the VCA. Also in that year, further expansion of the College took place when the fine arts programs of the former Faculty of Art and Design, Victoria College, were incorporated into the School of Art. In 2001 the School of Production was created, emerging from its status as a department within the School of Drama.

In 1988 the Federal Minister for Employment, Education and Training introduced a proposal to establish a unified national system of higher education with membership of the proposed system limited to institutions of a particular size. The Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), which had been established by the Victorian Order in Council in 1972 and then reconstituted under The Victorian College of the Arts Act, 1981 (Vic), was not able to participate in the proposed national system in its own right. To enable it to participate in the unified national system, the VCA entered into an Affiliation Agreement with The University of Melbourne on 16 November 1988.

This agreement came to an end under the Victorian College of the Arts (Amendment) Act 1991 (Vic) which established a more extensive relationship between The University and the VCA. A key feature of the affiliation was that the University assumed responsibility for the academic programs of the VCA, and students at the VCA who were enrolled in degree programs became students of the Univeristy.

In 2003, under the Higher Education Support Act, 2003, the Federal Government’s reforms to higher education introduced a consistent funding model for the academic clusters, which came into effect in 2005. This resulted in the removal of the special funding support that the VCA had previously received, representing a 35% revenue.

Early in 2005 under the leadership of the (then) new Vice Chancellor, Professor Glyn Davis, the University and the VCA commenced discussions about the possibility of full integration. In November 2005 the parties signed a Heads of Agreement which extended for 5 years from 1 January 2007. This agreement enabled the VCA to become a Faculty of The University of Melbourne and the University committed to bridge the funding gap created as a result of the 2003 reforms for a period to 2011 inclusive.

On 1 January 2007, as a consequence of the Melbourne University (Victorian College of the Arts) Act 2006 (Vic), the VCA was integrated with the University and the Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts was established.

This integration has been implemented in a way that endeavours to preserve the distinctive character and mission of the Victorian College of the Arts while extending its capacity to fulfil the special role it has as a leading visual and performing arts training institution within the Australian higher education sector.

The integration of the VCA resulted in two separate undergraduate music courses and multiple postgraduate music courses being offered within the University. To address this issue, in 2007, within the context of the introduction of the Melbourne Model, and the decision that the Bachelor of Music would be one of six undergraduate degree programs within the Model, a review of the two music programs was undertaken.

In May 2008, the University Council resolved that the Faculty of Music and the Faculty of the Victoian College of the Arts would be amalgamated from 6 April 2009. Accordingly, the Faculty of Music will be disestablished and the name of the Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts changed to the Faculty of the VCA and Music, within which three schools will be established: the School of Art, School of Music and School of Performing Arts.

The Faculty of the VCA and Music will comprise over 1,700 full time equivalent students in three schools: Art, Music and Performing Arts, as well as offering programs in Film and Television. The School of Music will be the largest (approximately half of the new Faculty) and the most comprehensive music school in Australia.

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