Curtin University of Technology

Continual growth, meeting the challenges of tomorrow.

Resources and chemistry precinct

In 1987 Curtin University of Technology became Western Australia’s third university and Australia’s first university of technology. Curtin made the transition from the Western Australia Institute of Technology to a university with the passing of an Act of Parliament in December 1986, accepting its first students as a university in 1987.

Curtin grew fast, continuing the program of expansion that hallmarked the WAIT years. The University was continually building and refining the campus in a game of “catch up” to meet the requirements of ever-growing numbers of students and staff.

The 1990s saw great change for Curtin. It had moved from a predominantly undergraduate institution to a university with degrees and awards across the spectrum to doctoral level. Despite stringent financial constraints Curtin worked through its funding issues via its relationships with external partners and received 35% of research funding from sources other than the federal government. Growth in international student numbers supported ongoing campus development.

In the mid 1990s plans were unveiled to develop the John Curtin Centre – an international community project to honour the former wartime Australian Prime Minister. The Centre would become a focal point on the Bentley campus and would eventually host the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy (JCIPP), the John Curtin Gallery and the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library (JCPML). It later won the Premier’s Civic Design Award.

The University undertook a comprehensive review of its strategic plan in 1996. After an extended period of consultation and development, the vision was to establish Curtin as a world-class university of technology. The words “look ever forward”, taken from the writings of John Curtin in 1932 about the role of universities, became its new motto.

Curtin’s commitment to the community was recognised with the introduction of the inaugural John Curtin Medals in 1998. The medals continue to be awarded annually to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the community.

With the completion of the John Curtin Centre, the first JCPML Anniversary Lecture was delivered by former Prime Minister the Honourable Gough Whitlam (1916 – 2014), entitled John Curtin: Parliament, Party, People. Notable speakers continued to deliver the JCPML Anniversary Lecture each year on 5 July, the anniversary of John Curtin’s death, including Hazel Hawke, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja and former Prime Minister the Honourable Paul Keating.