Our history

International House was founded in 1957, and has a rich cultural history grounded in the pursuit for multicultural understanding and acceptance.

Robert Menzies
The Right Honourable Robert G Menzies at the formal opening of International House in 1958.

In 1945, shortly after the end of the Second World War, the Australian government invited university students from countries in South and South East Asia to study in Australia as part of an aid program called the Colombo Plan.

A significant number of these students came to study at the University of Melbourne. Of those who did, many found it difficult to find suitable accommodation close to the University, and were on the receiving end of racial distrust and intolerance from Australians.

Various groups within and outside the University of Melbourne were interested in making these students feel welcome and assisting them to form friendships with Australian students. It was felt that the establishment of a new residential college for local and overseas students would best serve this interest.

The model of this new college was inspired by the International Houses Worldwide Movement, particularly International Houses which were already operating successfully in Europe and the United States at the time. The founders of the House wanted to produce graduates who were broadly educated and well informed on international affairs, and expected residents to acquire a keen appreciation of the values and cultures of others.

International House was opened in 1957 as an independent, multi-cultural, self-supporting residential college owned and operated by the University of Melbourne. It was officially opened the following year by the Prime Minister of the day, the Right Honourable Robert G Menzies.

Our motto

Fraternitas is the chosen motto of the House, which means 'brotherhood' in Latin. The contemporary context of our motto implies a fellowship of young men and women and recognition of common humanity across cultural and national boundaries.

Next: read the Head's welcome