The first sub group of Australian higher education institutions was established in May 1975, after the establishment of the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee and just before the precursor of its analogue for the former colleges of advanced education, the Australian conference of principals of colleges of advanced education which was established later in that year.
This group was the conference of directors of central institutes of technology (DOCIT – NSWIT, QIT, RMIT, SAIT, WAIT). These institutions originated as technical colleges in the central business districts of their capital cities, some of them over a century ago. As they developed they accumulated more and more senior levels of responsibility, most distinctively the diploma of engineering which was until 1972 the minimum qualification required for registration as an engineer. These institutions formed themselves into a group to prepare a submission to the Williams committee of inquiry into education and training (1976) seeking recognition as senior institutions of vocational higher education and some of the funding and many of the privileges of self governance and accreditation then accorded universities.
DOCIT founded its institutions’ distinctiveness on their size (they enrolled almost one third of all advanced education full time equivalent students), on the advanced level of their teaching (most of their programs were degrees rather than the diplomas of the other CAE) and their conduct of applied research (DEET, 1993:18). They were therefore like a college of advanced education version of the group of 8. Interestingly, the directors of RMIT and SAIT thought there was a conflict of interest between DOCIT and the Australian conference of principals of colleges of advanced education and so did not simultaneously sit on both bodies. DOCIT encountered too much opposition to its aspirations and disbanded in 1982, but revived in 1999 as the Australian technology network (Curtin, QUT, RMIT, UniSA and UTS). Swinburne University of Technology is similar in many ways to the members of the Australian technology network and would be grouped with the network in making comparisons with other Australian universities.