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Students First: Tasmania University Union 1899-1999


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Alexander, A 1999 , Students First: Tasmania University Union 1899-1999 , Tasmania University Union, Hobart.

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This book is published by the Tasmania University Union (who also produced a shorter
pictorial version, State of the Union) and printed in conjunction with the Tasmanian
Historical Research Association. The joint activity is most appropriate, as many members
of the Association were also members of the Union and have provided information and
other assistance for this book.
Tasmania had a chequered career in the nineteenth century: first it was a convict
colony, then, when independence came, the progress of the mainland due to the
discovery of gold passed the island by. Tasmanians made every effort to live down their
convict past, and there were calls for a university, which would prove that the colony was
as advanced and cultured as any other part of the British Empire. A mineral boom in the
1880s brought prosperity, and in 1890 the University of Tasmania was established, the
fourth in Australia. The site was the High School building on the Domain, built in 1850
in a suitably classical style.
Questions were asked whether a small colony really needed a university, and over the
next twenty years the University's position was often precarious. Nevertheless, lectures
started in 1893. The number of students was very small and most studied part-time, so
corporate life was difficult to build up, but by 1899 there were 35 students, enough to
attempt some sort of activity. So the Tasmania University Union was formed, to facilitate
social intercourse and to organise sport.' It was based on unions in the two great English
universities, Oxford and Cambridge, and on copies set up in Australian universities on the
mainland. So, from the start, there was a strong element in the Union of duplicating
university activity elsewhere.
The Union was different from what it later became. Membership was not compulsory,
and was open to all university members, staff, students and graduates. Men paid an annual
subscription of a guinea (twenty-one shillings), and women five shillings. The governor
was patron, the chancellor president, all staff were vice-presidents, the treasurer was a
professor. The committee consisted of delegates from five sections (cricket, tennis,
football, debating and social activities) and a secretary and treasurer.

Item Type: Book
Authors/Creators:Alexander, A
Publisher: Tasmania University Union
Collections: University of Tasmania > University of Tasmania Special Collections
Additional Information:

Communicated with the kind permission of Alison Alexander. © Alison Alexander, 1999 Further dealing in this work, other than fair dealing under the Copyright Act 1968, is not permitted

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