Early History of International House
|The first International
House was opened in New York City in 1924 with the idea of
providing foreign students with zsuitable accommodation and
an opportunity to mix with students of other nationalities,
including Americans. It was hoped that the visitors would
learn about some aspects of the American way of life, be introduced
to other areas of the country and forge friendships that would
promote international tolerance and understanding. The ideal
was displayed above the front entrances as "That Brotherhood
May Prevail". With the significant change in gender mix
in higher education and halls of residence since those days,
"That Friendship May Prevail" would be more suitable.
International Houses were soon being built in other parts
of the USA, the United Kingdom, Germany and elsewhere. In
Australia the number of overseas students began to expand
rapidly in the fifties and groups of enthusiastic students
campaigned for an International House to be constructed. Melbourne
was the first city in Australia to build an International
House. The House, which accommodated 40 residents, opened
its doors in 1957 at a site within walking distance of the
University of Melbourne.
In Sydney, with similar accommodation problems as Melbourne
and just as many overseas students, efforts began in 1952
to establish an International House. Little progress was made
until a group of New South Wales organizations formed what
became known as the Australian Organization's Coordinating
Committee for Overseas Students (AOCCOS). They received the
offer of land at Castlecrag for an International House. As
AOCCOS was not entitled to receive such gifts an expert advisory
committee was set up to examine the proposal. They decided
against the use of the land at Castlecrag and formulated the
following principles for an International House:
Various sites were suggested and cost estimates prepared.
The organizations involved set a target of approximately 250,000
pounds for each foundation.
- That accommodation be provided immediately adjacent
to either or both universities.
- That a Trustee Committee be set up and legally incorporated
to be responsible for the raising of money, acquisition
of the necessary site(s), and subsequent administration.
- Management to be independent of the universities. o
Optimum size of residential hall to be between 120 and
- That it might consider the setting up of one International
House in relation to one University as a first step.
Mr. Bruce Smith, a Rotarian from the Parramatta district,
was closely involved with the fund raising activities of two
Rotary Districts. He pointed out that the 1957 Murray Commission
Report into Australian Universities catalyzed the involvement
of Rotary in fundraising to establish International Houses
in Sydney. The report stated; "We would particularly
stress the importance of University residences for overseas
students. Australia is assuming responsibilities of the highest
order in Southeast Asia. There is already a large flow of
students, increasing every year. It is important that they
should learn not only the particular academic specialism that
the Universities have to offer, but they should go home with
an intimate knowledge of Australians, of Australian thought
and of Australian ideals. These students represent the highest
ability these overseas countries possess and they are the
potential leaders in their particular walk of life. It is
indeed unfortunate that they spend much of the day in isolation
from those of kindred interests…"
A meeting of a selected group of Rotarians and the Chancellor
of Sydney University, Sir Charles Bickerton-Blackburn, resulted
in Rotary accepting the challenge of fund raising, with the
establishment of the Rotary Appeal Trust Deed dated 24 August
1962. The Universities' International House Appeal began 24
September 1962 and closed 31 March 1967. Professor Philip
Baxter, Vice-Chancellor of UNSW, a Rotarian, was persuasive
and successful in ensuring that the fundraising target was
sufficient to enable International Houses to be built at both
universities. The Trust Deed laid down strict provisions which
the Universities' governing bodies agreed to. The Universities
would provide the land, the Rotarians would raise 100,000
pounds for each institution through their appeal and the State
and Federal Governments would each match that on a dollar
for dollar basis.
In May 1967 the Bursar UNSW acknowledged receipt of a total
sum of $203,265.94 from The Universities' International House
Appeal. The foundation stone was set for UNSW International
House on 13 February 1965 by the Governor, Lieut. General
Sir Eric Woodward, in the presence of the Chancellor of the
University, Justice J.J.S. Clancy, the Chairman of the Trustees,
Mr. Bernard Freeman, and distinguished guests.
In his vote of thanks Mr. Freeman, included the following
words: "This is also an opportune occasion for me to
thank everyone who has been directly or indirectly concerned
with our appeal, those who by their encouragement, co-operation
and energy have helped to make the building of this International
House a reality. The Commonwealth Government, the Government
of New South Wales, the governments and peoples of south-east
Asia, the Lebanese community of New South Wales, the University
of New South Wales, the University of Sydney, the Women's
Furnishing Committee, the professions, commerce, industry,
community-minded citizens and last but not least, my fellow
Rotarians and their ladies. To each and all a most sincere
and heartfelt thank-you.
I cannot conclude my remarks without an expression of faith
and confidence in the worthiness of the International House
to be built on this site. Nationality, colour, faith, or opinions
will be no bar at its doors. Here students will learn to live
and laugh together. It is therefore our earnest hope that
along with the fellowship they will enjoy, the knowledge they
will acquire, these students will be inspired to go forth
as crusaders in the cause of peaceful relations among the
peoples of different nations."
We are now, in the thirty sixth year of residency and UNSW
International House has proved to be a world class residential
Emeritus Professor Albert Willis
Emeritus Professor E. O. P. Thompson
Read more about our history in the articles:
Courtyard by Emeritus Professor E.O.P.
International House in 1969. View from Anzac Parade (near the
north side of Squarehouse of the present). Photography of Hugh
Ceremony of UNSW International House by the Governor of New South
Wales, Sir Arthur Roden Cutler on 14 June 1968.
Construction of UNSW International House
under process in November 1967. Photography by Hugh Hylano.
The foundation stone was set for UNSW
International House on 13 February 1965 by the Governor, Lieut.
General Sir Eric Woodward, in the presence of the Chancellor of
the University, Justice J.J.S. Clancy, the Chairman of the Trustees,
Mr. Bernard Freeman, and distinguished guests.
One of the first
design scheme for UNSW International House published by the University
International House Appeal for fund raising in the 1960s.