The inauguration of Extension Studies at The University of Western Australia was the result of a visit by Albert Mansbridge, General Secretary, London, Worker Educational Association (WEA) in 1913. The University Extension Lectures Program later evolved into the Adult Education Board (AEB).
In 1948, Fred Alexander, Professor of history and Director of the AEB, with John Birman as Assistant-Director ran short community courses during the year and an annual Summer School. Diverse events of music, dance, performing arts, films, and visual arts were organised; from a lecture in 1949 by Sir Anthony Eden to concerts with the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and screenings of European films.
The flagship program, Summer School, was in the early days a residential school. Country people would come to Perth after harvest, pitching tents at Somerville (now the site for an outdoor Perth International Arts Festival film cinema), even sleeping on the roof of Hackett Hall.
The AEB helped to bring Musica Viva to WA in 1950. The AEB’s Summer School activities also paved the way for the first Festival of Perth in 1953. In 1966 John Birman was made head of the UWA’s Extension Service, which had separated from the AEB. He was also Director of the Festival of Perth from 1955 to 1976. One of John Birman’s proudest achievements was the establishment of 6UVS-FM – Western Australia’s first FM radio station, and its first community based radio station under the auspices of The University of Western Australia.
Summer School also influenced the establishment of community learning centres and UWA Extension has been closely tied to the University of the Third Age since its inception in 1986.
UWA Extension is a leading provider of University adult and continuing education in Western Australia. Our community courses and events are open to everyone for you to learn new skills and meet new people.
Since 2015 the UWA Extension community program has operated from The University Club of Western Australia providing excellent venues and facilities.
UWA Extension continues to offer a program of stimulating public talks and short courses across diverse subject areas as well popular short courses in the arts, writing and photography.