Deakin University was formally established in 1974 with the passage of the Deakin University Act 1974. Deakin was Victoria's fourth university, the first to be established in regional Victoria and the first to specialise in distance education. Deakin University's first campus was established at Waurn Ponds. The University was the result of a merger between State College of Victoria, Geelong (formerly Geelong Teachers College) and the higher education courses of the Gordon Institute of Technology. Deakin enrolled its first students at Waurn Ponds in 1977.
The Burwood campus is on the site of the former Burwood Teachers' College, and also takes in the former sites of the Bennettswood Primary School and the Burwood Secondary School. The teachers' college conducted two-year training courses for Primary School teachers, and three year courses for Infant Teachers (females only). It provided live-on-site accommodation for country students.
As part of the Dawkins education reforms that were announced in 1988 by the Commonwealth government, a merger with Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education took place in 1990, which was followed by a merger with most of Victoria College in 1991, with its campuses in Burwood, Rusden and Toorak. The Rusden Campus was closed in 2003 and all courses were transferred to the Melbourne Burwood campus. Rusden was subsequently acquired by Monash University for its student accommodation purposes.