The history of the Melbourne University has been traced to the XIX century, when Hugh Chiders established it in 1853 by the Act of the Victorian Parliament. In 1855 the staff of the Melbourne University consisted of three professors and sixteen students. In October 1855 the original university building was opened officially by Sir Charles Hotham, the Governor of the Colony of Victoria at that time.
Redmond Berry was the first chancellor, holding the position until his death. Despite the fact that the Melbourne University was forbidden from offering degrees in divinity as well as introduction of such useful subjects as law or engineering, in 1857 the law was introduced and in 1860 medicine and engineering started being taught within the university. In the years that followed the university faced lots of mischief, being close to bankruptcy in 1902, but having survived due to new funding structures recommended by a Royal Commission. The Commission was a major player in establishing such disciplines as agriculture and education.
In the period that followed the World War I the Melbourne University showed few opportunities to gifted students, attracting people from affluent backgrounds. The council, which consisted of more businesspeople than professors, was mainly to blame. In 1923 it enjoyed great powers at the expense of the senate. After the World War II the university has expanded, following the demand for Commonwealth funded student places in Australia.
The university is comprised of eleven faculties, including the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Economics and Commerce, the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of Engineering, the Faculty of Land and Food Resources, the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Music, the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Veterinary Science. The courses offered by the faculties range from Bachelor's Degree to Doctorate level.
The colleges have become an important part of the university since 1872. Most of them are located at the northern part of the campus, known as the College Cresent. The colleges aim at providing accommodation as well as tutorials to more than 3000 students, which is considered to be a small fraction of the university's population.
However, tutorials do not form a part of any university course like in Oxbridge Colleges, they render extra assistance to students on the campus. Many students live in private apartment complexes and surrounding suburbs. The University of Melbourne is prominent for its original buildings, like the Old Law and the Old Arts buildings, which were constructed during the post World War II period. Many laboratories and high-rise office buildings appeared at this time, including the Raymond Priestley Building, the Redmond Barry Building, Wilson Hall and many of the existing colleges.
In 2003 the University of Melbourne Australia celebrated its 150th anniversary. Due to the constant improvements, it is likely to maintain its reputation of the leading educational and research establishment.