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Living in a new world

Volume 7 Number 1 January 10 - February 13 2011

University High School celebrates its centenary during which time it has opened up a new world to generations of students and staff. By Shane Cahill.

Our near neighbour across Royal Parade, University High School celebrates its centenary, recorded in a new history.

In the centenary year of The University High School as part of the celebrations, a history of the School, A Whole New World – 100 years of education at University High School, has been written by Dr Carolyn Rasmussen.

University High School occupies a unique place in the Victorian State education system. Opened as a no-fee, co-educational secondary school in 1910, its primary role initially was to provide a practising school for trainee teachers, but this in no way over-shadowed its development as a normal high school. The students came eager to learn from teachers who were often exceptional and who encouraged them to raise their aspirations to match their abilities.

This tradition remains, with Masters Students from The University of Melbourne undergoing placements at the School.

The sense of UHS as a very special school that opened up a new world of possibilities is an enduring theme in the recollections of former students and staff. In 1915, Mathew Sharman told the assembled pupils, “Your thoughts and actions are being directed along new channels. You are living in a new world.”

Generations of teachers and students have subsequently worked to maintain and refurbish that ‘new world’ to suit the needs of current students. This centenary history builds on the jubilee history by Alice Hoy, and draws extensively on 350 questionnaire responses from alumni, interviews, and other material from past pupils and teachers, to draw a vivid picture of the new world that was and is UHS and its place in the lives of its students and the wider community.

Famous former students include High Court judges, stars of stage and screen, writers, journalists, sports people, musicians, Lord Mayors of Melbourne and philanthropists.

Dr Carolyn Rasmussen is an honorary senior fellow in the School of Historical Studies and has written several histories of the University.

A Whole New World – 100 years of education at University High School, by Carolyn Rasmussen, is published by Australian Scholarly Publishing. Purchase details can be found at: