Explore Melbourne Polytechnic

NMIT Milestones – 1970s


Collingwood Technical School – technical school becomes a multi-cultural technical college.

1970: fifty-eight years after its commencement, approval was finally given for the school to change its name to ‘Collingwood Technical College’.

Early 1970s: substantial development of the outskirts of Melbourne led to new technical schools, and this led to a contraction of the catchment area of secondary schools for which Collingwood would be an option. Collingwood was still one of the large colleges but its area was now restricted to Carlton, Collingwood and Fitzroy.

The rapid growth and building taking place increased the need for tradesmen in the building sector, trades like electrical mechanics, carpentry, joinery, plumbing, sheetmetal working, furniture making, bricklaying, and ceramic tiling. Collingwood taught all these courses, so was able to benefit from this demand. There was also a continuing increase in demand for upper level technicians, so the College could continue to build on its initiatives of the 1960s.

1974: New CTC Principal, Ian D. Scott, takes up his appointment after the retirement of Mr Barberis after 12 years of service. Principal Scott notes in the School Magazine, Turawan, that after years of funding problems that the first injection of Government (Federal) money for the CTC secondary school has arrived from ‘Karmel’ and other funds and that the school was looking forward to further funding as “envisaged in the Kangan Report”. Scott also notes that the Education Department had accepted “the first of several recommendations from the College Planning Committee i.e. for the erection of a new middle level College building. The design of this seven story structure, to be erected on a block between Perry and Otter Streets, allows for an excellent modern library, a cafeteria, student study and recreational facilities, laboratories and lecture rooms etc. … and should provide a first-class model for the development of future buildings.” This was the genesis of the main Collingwood campus building that we know today.

1975: Australia’s large immigration program began to have a significant effect on Collingwood Technical College because of the Victorian Housing Commission’s three massive towers of flats in the area – one in Wellington Street and the twin blocks in Hoddle Street. By this time there were 26 nationalities represented in the student body at Collingwood and only five of these had English as the first language. The largest non-English speaking background (NESB) ethnic groups at the College were Greek/Macedonian, Italy, Yugoslavia, Spain, and Turkey but there were also students from Austria, Argentina, Andorra, Brazil, Chile, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, Holland, India, Lebanon, Malta, Mauritius, Peru, Spain and Switzerland.

The diversity in language groups necessitated, in time, the employment of interpreters in Greek, Turkish and the Yugoslav languages to assist parents in understanding the kind of education their children would be receiving and the objectives of the courses. Language laboratories were also set up to assist students to develop their English language skills.

In 1975 premises were leased in Marine Parade, Abbotsford, to provide accommodation for the departments of carpentry, joinery, bricklaying, and solid plastering. This allowed the old ‘Sparko’ building in Perry Street to be demolished and cleared for a planned seven storey ‘middle level’ building.

1976: as a sign of the times, classes providing alternative and bridging courses for youth, especially those unemployed, were offered in a leased factory in North Fitzroy. This program later merged with the Education Program for Unemployed Youth. At the same time, Collingwood assumed responsibility for high school evening classes as part of TAFE operations.

1978: High School evening classes at the Collingwood Education Centre and Princes Hill High School become part of the CTS TAFE operations.

1979: classes commence in horticultural trades at Royal Park (Parkville) with 96 apprentices.

Preston Technical College

1972: Dr J.B Richie takes over from Mr B.W Pollock as Principal of Preston Technical College.

1973: the Preston Institute of Technology (established in the 1960s as a development of Preston Technical College’s ‘Diploma School’) relocated to Bundoora. In 1981 it became the Phillip Institute of Technology.
In the seventies Preston became the major college of TAFE in the northern suburbs, serving a population area of over 600,000 people. The College was providing courses in vocational and continuing education, from the basic to advanced levels. As with Collingwood, there was also an extensive development of preparatory and access programs for young people and adults returning to study, as well as community based learning resourced by the College.

It was also in the seventies that the role of a library in a technical or vocational college began to be examined. Changes in the technologies for learning and distributing information meant that there was an opportunity to expand library services from being merely passive providers of text-based information to being actively integrated into the learning process. This would involve the provision of multi-media facilities for students and teachers so that teaching could take place in the library spaces, not just in a classroom.

Late 1970s: Preston Technical College develops the highly regarded Learning Resources Centre, which became the model and benchmark for library services in TAFE across Victoria. It was named the ‘L. J. Watts Learning Resource Centre’ after a Director of Technical Education who had embarked on his career as a teacher at Preston in 1937, the foundation year. Mr. Watts last taught at Preston in 1956, later becoming a schools inspector and rising through the administrative hierarchy to head technical education in Victoria.

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Last Modified: June 14, 2013

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