Forty years ago, the Australian Maritime College (AMC) officially opened at the small riverside town of Beauty Point in North-East Tasmania to provide maritime education and training for Australia’s merchant navy and fishing industry. The opening was the culmination of two decades of work by people who were convinced that Australia needed a centralised, modern institution to provide such training.
The 1960s were a time of technological advancement in the shipping industry. Increasing automation and port development along with improved vessel design meant a considerable change in seafarers’ workloads. Maritime industries in the US and the UK were quick to adapt to the changes, but Australia began to fall behind, especially in the emerging area of short specialist courses. By the early 1970s people were finally taking the need for improved maritime training in Australia seriously. Stephen Brown
The Maritime College Act was passed in 1978 establishing the AMC as an autonomous tertiary institution, fully funded by the Commonwealth Government to provide maritime education and training for the whole country.
The main building at the Newnham campus, the Swanson Building, was completed for the start of the 1981 school year. That year the College’s first 115 students could choose between the following courses: Diploma of Applied Science (Nautical Science), Diploma of Engineering (Marine), Certificate of Technology in Fisheries Operations, or Associate Diploma in Radio Communications. Many of the first graduates are still working in the maritime industry.
For the first few years AMC was very much a seafarer training college. Most of the students taking diploma courses were cadets from shipping companies. In the tradition of British colleges, cadets were required to wear a uniform, start the day with a flag raising ceremony, and had compulsory sailing on weekends, but this quickly went out of fashion.
In January 2008, AMC was formally established as an institute of the University of Tasmania.
The vision and purpose of the integration was to strengthen the provision of maritime training, education and research on a national and international scale. It has allowed AMC to build upon its reputation through increased opportunities for teaching and research collaboration.
The AMC is now a globally recognised centre for excellence in maritime education, research and consulting, offering a wide variety of maritime courses from vocational training through to bachelor and postgraduate degrees.