Key 68: Graduate Studies and Research in the Postwar University / Doctor of Philosophy 1946 / Dean of Graduate Studies 1950 / Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) 1975


Under the headline: ‘Melbourne University Gains Status from the War’, the Melbourne Herald of 25 August 1941 asserted that it had finally achieved the status of a ‘premier university as distinct from an intermediate institution on the road to Oxford’. There was a well-founded view, especially in the Science Faculty, that all that was required to consolidate the war-time gains was the establishment of a research degree and increased funding for research activities. The former proved easier than the latter. Attempts by the Science Faculty to introduce a PhD in 1924 foundered for lack of support from other universities, and again in late 1945 Melbourne University led the way when it adopted regulations for the first degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Australia. The first PhDs were awarded to Erica Wolff (Arts) and R. H. Myers (Science) in 1948.

Erica Wolff and Rupert Myers
Erica Wolff and Rupert Myers
[Source: Uni Gazette, Autumn 1978, p.2]

In 1950 J.S. Rogers, fresh from Mildura, was appointed to the new position of Dean of Graduate Studies and the Standing Committee on Research of the Professorial Board recommended the publication of an annual Research Report.

Dr J.S. Rogers (3rd from right), member of the Optical Munitions Panel
Dr J.S.Rogers (3rd from right) in an earlier role on the Optical Munitions Panel.
[Source: University of Melbourne Archives Image Catalogue, UMA-I-1557]

As the demand for post-graduate enrolments grew in the 1960s the University devoted the substantial Williams Bequest to PhD scholarships to supplement those available from the Government. In 1965 these were supporting 209 students. It was the Commonwealth Government however which provided the major funding support through scholarships and grants. From 1958 a hundred post-graduate scholarships were made available and the number increased in 1963. In 1965 the allocation of the funds for scholarships and research passed to a new body, the Australian Research Grants Committee (ARGC).

The management of research students and funding remained with this and the PhD committees until 1975 when the Dean of Graduate Studies was replaced by a Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) who chaired a new Committee on Research and Graduate Studies.

Professor John Poynter with Elinor Wrobel (left) and University Librarian Helen Hayes
Professor John Poynter, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) 1975
[Source: University of Melbourne Archives Media Photograph Collection, Photograph No 16355]