Thanks to nearly 30,000 incredibly generous donors and thousands of volunteering hours from our alumni and friends, the Believe campaign has had a transformative impact on the lives of many around the world. We celebrate a selection of the stories made possible through your generosity.
Download the PDF version of the report
Thank you for believing in possibility
For 14 years, Believe – The Campaign for the University of Melbourne has changed lives through the transformative impact of scholarships, innovative research that contributes to solving the world’s grand challenges, community engagement locally and globally, and world-class facilities that have enabled students and researchers to thrive and prosper in their work.
Believe: Facts and Figures
How you have made a difference
Timeline: 14 years of transformation
Here, we celebrate stories of connection, contribution and transformation made possible by Believe. These achievements are only made possible by the generous alumni and donors who have participated in this journey. These are just some of the remarkable highlights of this historic undertaking.
- On 1 January 2008, Believe commenced unofficially with planning underway and the campaign’s earliest donations being received.
- The University was the grateful recipient of a $14M gift in will from the late Dr Albert John Shimmins. Since then, the Albert Shimmins Fund has supported scholarships and research activities in the Faculty of Science. The commitment and vision of donors like Dr Shimmins is represented by the $146.5M received from realised bequests between 2008–2021.
Read about one of these visionary gifts and its enduring impact.
- 1220 donors collectively contributed $349,229 to the Future Generations Scholarship Fund. This scholarship fund has been a cornerstone to our collective support program, and over the course of Believe, more than 155 students have been awarded Future Generations Scholarships, supporting talented postgraduates to excel within the Melbourne Model.
Read more about the impact of scholarships.
- The Welcome to Melbourne program was launched. Since then, it has matched commencing Australia Awards Scholarship students with University alumni and staff, and provided an opportunity for friendship and cultural exchange. Since the program launched, 1798 students have participated along with more than 1100 alumni and staff hosts.
- The University’s Malaysia Alumni Association celebrated its 20-year anniversary.
- On 21 May 2013, Believe – The Campaign for the University of Melbourne was launched publicly. Our goal was to raise $500M by the end of 2017. At the time of the launch, we had raised $249M towards the target from 13,000 donors.
- The Access Connections program was launched, connecting University of Melbourne undergraduate students, who are under-represented in higher education, with mentors from our alumni community.
- The University of Melbourne Beijing Alumni Association was established.
- In one of the most significant acts of arts philanthropy to an Australian university, property developer and passionate art collector Michael Buxton donated his private contemporary Australian art collection to the University. This donation – which formed the Buxton Contemporary museum in the centre of the Southbank Campus – was and continues to be used to enhance the University’s curriculum across disciplines, fostering an innovative approach to student learning.
Read more about the impact of philanthropy at the Southbank Campus.
- Having surpassed the original Believe goal two years ahead of schedule, Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis AC announced a bold new target to build upon this success: to raise $1B and have more than 100,000 alumni engaged in the life of our institution by 2021. With this announcement, the University became the first Australian institution to establish an alumni engagement target as part of a philanthropic campaign.
- A $65M grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies – one of the largest philanthropic gifts in Australian history – established the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity. This program is now seeing a new generation of Indigenous leaders work together to redress social disadvantage.
Read more about the impact of this program.
- A generous gift from Peter McMullin AM and Ruth McMullin was received to establish the world’s only academic research centre dedicated to the issue of statelessness. Led by international refugee and statelessness law expert Professor Michelle Foster, the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness continues to undertake research, teaching and engagement activities aimed at reducing statelessness and protecting the rights of stateless people in Australia, the Asia Pacific region, and more broadly.
- An extraordinary $30M gift to the University of Melbourne from the Hansen Little Foundation was announced. The gift facilitated the construction of Little Hall (opened in 2021) and a new flagship Hansen Scholarship Program – providing unparalleled opportunities and support for outstanding students whose personal circumstances may otherwise deny them the chance to study at the University of Melbourne.
The Ask Alumni program launched – encouraging student-to-alumni connections through its digital platform. In 2018, the total number of alumni who volunteered to support students across all mentoring programs surpassed 2000 for the first time.
Read more about the impact of Ask Alumni.
- The University’s UK Alumni Association celebrated its 25-year anniversary.
- In a year marking the 30th anniversary of the University’s Annual Appeal program, $92,831 from 369 donors was raised through the End of Year Appeal. These funds supported the development of a training app for carers of dementia patients to help them use music more intentionally with their loved ones. Together, these donors helped to lay the groundwork for the development of the Music Attuned Technology for Care via eHealth (MATCH) app, which has now attracted a further $2M in funding through Australia’s Medical Research Future Fund.
- During a very challenging year, alumni and donors came together to give generously to the COVID-19 Emergency Appeal, launched in response to the global pandemic. More than $1.3M from almost 1300 donors was raised to fund 17,000 emergency student support grants.
On 31 December 2021, Believe officially concluded. It raised $1.165B through 29,155 donors, engaged 112,772 alumni, and impacted thousands of lives through education and research. The
impact of Believe will be felt for generations. his report details only a small number of impactful stories made possible by the generosity of our community. We are grateful to each and every one of our donors and alumni volunteers for making this possible.
View messages of thanks from our University leaders
Professor Duncan Maskell, Vice-Chancellor
In thanks for your extraordinary support
This year, we report on the culmination of 14 years of extraordinary generosity. As we conclude Believe – The Campaign for the University of Melbourne, we acknowledge our donor and alumni community and celebrate the future of philanthropy at the University.
In this year’s report, as we conclude the Believe campaign, we highlight some of the stunning outcomes made possible by generous contributions of time and financial support since it commenced in 2008. Believe has been the most successful higher education fundraising campaign in Australian history. With your support, the University continues to have a profound impact on Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and the world.
When I arrived at the University of Melbourne as Vice-Chancellor in 2018, I quickly came to appreciate the great importance of philanthropy, and of our generous worldwide community of alumni.
This is part of a global pattern: the best universities recognise that philanthropy brings major benefits to future generations, not only of scholars, students and alumni, but of nations and communities everywhere.
These benefits range from cutting-edge research that shapes, enriches, and saves lives, to giving students access to the very best in teaching and learning, to supporting and strengthening the arts. Increasingly, the impact of your giving has been felt well beyond the University and deeply into our Australian and global communities. In recent years, support for COVID-19 research has helped us to return to a more ‘normal’ way of living faster than would have been otherwise possible.
Thanks to 73,987 individual gifts from nearly 30,000 donors to the University, its colleges, and affiliates, this immense giving effort has enabled the University of Melbourne to invest in a remarkable number of major teaching, research and public benefit initiatives. These include:
- $610M directed toward research and discovery, including the establishment of 34 Professorial Chairs, 25 of which are invested for the long-term. These research chairs range across the classics, history, cancer research, paediatrics, neural engineering, human rights law, physics, economic history, medical biology and more
- 473 scholarships and award funds, many of which are supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds
- $104.2M directed towards learning spaces and campus development, creating first-class educational environments where students and researchers can excel.
In addition to these remarkable accomplishments, Believe has seen outstanding contributions made by University alumni as volunteers – mentoring and inspiring thousands of students, supporting the University, and further enhancing its global reputation.
To everyone who has played a role in the Believe campaign, I offer my deep personal and sincere thanks. When you give to the University you help us make extraordinary things happen. As a grateful community, we thank you for believing in us.
Professor Duncan Maskell
Allan Myers AC QC, Chancellor
In thanks for your trust and generosity
Together, through Believe – the Campaign for the University of Melbourne, we have forever changed the face of the institution.
Fourteen years ago, we set ourselves a goal – to build philanthropy and alumni engagement into the fabric of the University.
It was built upon a belief that the University of Melbourne is an important public institution, and is seen as such, not just by the people of Melbourne, but the state of Victoria and the Australian public. And you, our community, have responded so generously and enthusiastically to Believe.
For this, we thank you.
The outcomes of this campaign are something of which I’m proud. Your generous contributions and engagement with the work of the University reflects the importance of this institution to society and the esteem with which it is held.
I believe one of the fundamental roles of a University is to reflect the accumulated wisdom and aspirations of the society we serve. We question, explore and work to make a difference and extend the cannon of human knowledge for the better.
You have demonstrated the deep relationship and dialogue between the University of Melbourne and our community, what matters to you and the role we play in meeting your expectations. From the graduates we produce, the research we explore, and the campuses we share, your generosity has shaped our public contribution to society.
And with your support, the journey will continue.
While some of the circumstances in which the university operates has changed, our work and purpose has not. That's no less important now than it was before the events of the past few years.
Your trust in the University is a source of pride to us. We chose the word Believe, because we wanted to reach you, those who believe in the value of universities and the particular importance and value of the University of Melbourne.
Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for your support and thank you for trusting the University to use your gifts as you've directed and, wisely, in the interests of the University of Melbourne, our community and society. Thank you for trusting us, and we will continue to do our best to honour and fulfil your trust.
Allan Myers AC QC
Dr Rachel Baird, Alumni Council President
As an alum myself, I understand how valuable it is for us to engage in the life of our University, and for our University to engage with us in return. So, I was thrilled when this engagement was acknowledged as a key target of Believe, placing alumni and our community at the heart of the University.
Our community has stepped up to make a difference throughout this campaign. More than 15,000 of us have volunteered our time, with more than 8000 alumni acting as mentors for students through mentoring initiatives and the Ask Alumni program. Even with the limitations we faced throughout the pandemic, more than 100,000 alumni also attended events and public lectures as the University continued to share its expertise with the world.
I congratulate every member of our alumni community who has made a contribution, and thus made a difference. I am so proud of what we’ve achieved together and, alongside my Council colleagues, I look forward to continuing to strengthen our global community into the future.
Dr Rachel Baird
Alumni Council President
Leigh Clifford AO, Campaign Chair
The city of Melbourne has a number of great institutions but the hard work of the University of Melbourne, its people and the alumni community over the past 14 years has ensured it remains one of the best.
The breadth and depth of your generosity is to be applauded. The University, its researchers, students, and community owe you a debt of gratitude. You have stepped up, and your generosity and imagination has changed the University forever.
The opportunities you have provided, the people you have supported – be it through scholarships, investment in our sporting clubs, or ground-breaking research opportunities – has meant that students and researchers can give their very best.
The University owes you a debt of gratitude for your contribution. You have given us the foundations for an even stronger future, for those who are studying now and those yet to come.
Leigh Clifford AO
Nick Blinco, Vice-President, Advancement
When community comes together, amazing things happen
Looking at this final campaign report, it is both humbling and amazing to see what you – our incredibly generous donors, supporters, alumni and volunteers – have enabled since we commenced Believe back in 2008.
You have shown us the extraordinary impact that can be achieved when we link generous and visionary partners and supporters with our students and leading-edge researchers.
You have shown us that an engaged, aware, and committed alumni and donor community, who have so generously contributed their time and expertise, can make a true difference in the world. You have made a difference to our students, to life-saving and life-changing research, and to the landscape of Melbourne.
I have enjoyed every moment of working with you and everyone at the University to help make Believe possible. While the campaign has concluded, philanthropy will remain at the heart of our most ambitious objectives, and the engagement of our alumni and friends will be critical to the thriving life of the University. Together, you will help us to build a bridge to recovery following the challenges of the past two years; conducting research and developing researchers to help our communities thrive in a constantly evolving world.
We will continue to work in partnership with you – our donors and supporters – to enable change, to support our alumni community, and to strengthen critical connections to business and industry. We will continue to support students to thrive and succeed in their studies so they can play valuable and meaningful roles in the years to come.
Robert Louis Stevenson was right: you should judge each day not by what you reap, but the seeds that you plant. You have sowed many seeds and future generations will thank you.
Together, you have given power to possibility. Thank you from everyone here at the University.
Stories of impact
A home in the heart of Melbourne's Arts Precinct
Brilliant artists need inspiring spaces, and the redeveloped Southbank campus is providing that backdrop for the University’s fine arts and music students – thanks to the support of visionary donors.
Giving life to medical breakthroughs
Thanks to the generosity of Mrs Pamela Galli AO, three distinguished medical specialists are harnessing the power of collaboration to push boundaries and save lives.
The transformative power of healthy disruption
The Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity helped Michelle Steele turn a conversation with a female inmate into action to improve social equity.
Banding together to save a precious marsupial
An ambitious donor-funded breeding program has provided respite for Victoria’s endangered eastern barred bandicoot, giving promise to global conservation efforts.
Generosity helped Kasey find her feet in a difficult year
While the pandemic isolated Kasey from her family and proved to be emotionally difficult, the Bertalli Family Foundation Scholarship provided critical support.
Fostering the future of bionics
Professor Grayden’s career accomplishments prove the value in collaboration. He continues to accelerate progress in medical technologies that enrich people’s lives.
Support underpins a bright career in wastewater management
A range of scholarships, including one funded by University of Melbourne alumni from his home town of Mildura, helped carry Sam Skinner on his nine-year academic journey.
Black law matters
Law alum David Bailey’s gift to the Melbourne Law School is enabling the Indigenous Law and Justice Hub to lead the way on advocacy, research and supporting Indigenous students.
Mobilising mentoring with alumni support
Traditional mentoring has always helped students and professionals thrive in their careers. A new approach to mentoring supported by University alumni is having an even greater impact.
Rural vet’s passion for wildlife research helps career soar
Two scholarships – one created for veterinarian students, the other dedicated to wildlife research – enabled Doctor Meaghan Barrow to give back to vulnerable wildlife.
REEaChing for quality early childhood education
The REEaCh Hub is helping young children of all backgrounds reach their potential thanks to the Leaper Foundation’s generous support.
Scholarship helped Claudia achieve a family first
Claudia Cox’s dream of attending university had its challenges. The Grant F. Marani First in Family Scholarship helped her succeed through it all.
The kindness of strangers
The Angelika Zimmerman Medical Scholarship, the gift of an alumni couple, is making all the difference for several promising young students.
Harnessing the power of literature
As the Boisbouvier Founding Chair in Australian Literature, renowned Indigenous author Alexis Wright is furthering the role that literature plays in influencing society.
Where bold ideas are born
Wade Institute is a place for ambitious doers – like Karolina – to hone their skills in entrepreneurship. The Institute was established thanks to Peter Wade’s generosity.
Gold standard meditation and contemplative practice
Recent studies show contemplative practices can be harmful if not approached with care. The Contemplative Studies Centre is helping inform best practice.
Where art and science collide
Art and science have long been pitted against each other as competing schools of thought. But Science Gallery Melbourne is bridging this gap and getting more young people interested in STEM.