Union Spotlight: Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University RMIT University

Union Spotlight: Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University RMIT University2004-11-0159Union Spotlightsfalse

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University (RMIT), originally known as the Working Men's College, accepted its first students in 1887. The strong sense of community among students led to the formation of the Student Union in 1944, one of two unions at RMIT. During the late 1950s, the Student Union pushed to have a union building constructed, as there was no central space for students to gather. Discussions and disagreements between the university's Committee of Council and the Student Union in 1968 led to the formation of a RMIT Union Board, which had little affiliation with the already-existing Student Union. Conflict between the two unions began as soon as the second union was established, and some conflict still exists today. Interestingly, the students' dream of having a central union building was not realized until1982 when Union House (now shared by the RMIT Union, Student Union, RMIT Student Services Group, main library, and academic departments) opened. Now, eight RMIT Union information centers are scattered across three campuses, with the main union building, Union House, located at the central city campus.


RMIT Union has found that the way to students' hearts is through their stomachs, and consequently the RMIT Union has gone to great lengths to provide exceptional food and dining facilities. This is especially important at the RMIT City Campus, located in the heart of Melbourne City. There, campus dining faces the daunting task of competing with the options offered by Melbourne, a city known for its incredible variety of food. The old cafeteria-style facility has been replaced by several trendier outlets, and the dining space has become one of the main hangouts for students. The Student Union brings in a band each week, and the space is also used to hold demos, information sessions, and quizzes.

Since the renovation of the food area, RMIT Union has turned its attention to the remodeling of the Student Media Precinct, one of the main areas in Union House. Completed in 2002, the Precinct houses Student Union offices, a student radio station, RMITV, the student newspaper, Womyn's Room, Queer Room, and The Hub—a place for students to go for academic help.

Programs and services

RMIT Union has no shortage of interesting and exciting events to offer students at its various campus locations. RMIT Union funds and supports more than 30 sporting and recreational clubs, 12 arts collectives, the RMIT Association of International Students, a student leadership program, and the Postgraduate Association. RMIT Union also is making strides to contribute to students' health and well-being by holding courses such as yoga, meditation, Latin dance, kickboxing, and hip-hop funk each semester. Additionally, RMIT Union provides childcare services, free accident insurance, emergency loans, and taxation service; and is responsible for the free cinema, fitness centers, dental clinic, dance program, student publications, and much more.

RMIT Union offers ways for students to scope out their surroundings by running numerous trips and tours around Melbourne, in Victoria, and around Australia. These services are especially useful to the many international students new to the Australian experience, but local students have also been known to take advantage of the discounted prices and friendly student atmosphere.

Funded and operated by RMIT Union, First Site Gallery, one of Melbourne's most exciting art galleries, gives the next generation of artists and designers a chance to showcase their talents. It is a contemporary art space located underground in the heart of the city and is where the annual fundraiser New Collectables Auction is held, bringing together student artists, art collectors, and first-time buyers.

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University

Full-time enrollment: 29,652
Total enrollment: 57,243
Urban, suburban, rural, commuter, international, multilocational
Melbourne, Australia

RMIT Union

General manager: Trevor White

Total number of student staff: 134
Full-time: 1
Casual (i.e., without long-term contracts): 133

Total number of nonstudent staff: 177
Full-time: 63
Part-time: 18
Casual: 96

Updated Nov. 9, 2012