The University of Ballarat has a long history that goes back to the famous gold rush era of the 1850s. Tertiary education at Ballarat began with the establishment of the School of Mines and Industries in 1870 making it Australia's third oldest tertiary institution. It is for this reason that the 1870 Founders Hall at the University of Ballarat came into existence.
People such as Redmond Barry who also founded the State Library of Victoria were involved in the original establishment to create an institution of equivalent standing to a university to offer degree level courses at Ballarat.
The School of Mines had two divisions - a tertiary division and a technical division. The tertiary division provided higher education courses such as mining engineering, geology, education and business studies, while the technical division provided technical programs such as wool classing, plumbing and bricklaying.
The organisation remained in that form until the 1960s when it was split into two institutions. The School of Mines remained intact offering technical and secondary level programs, while the tertiary division became Ballarat Institute of Advanced Education. In the 1970s it was renamed Ballarat College of Advanced Education.