Australian Catholic University (ACU) was opened on 1 January 1991 following the amalgamation of four Catholic tertiary institutions in eastern Australia:
- Catholic College of Education Sydney in New South Wales
- Institute of Catholic Education in Victoria
- McAuley College of Queensland
- Signadou College of Education in the Australian Capital Territory.
These institutions had their origins in the mid-1800s, when religious orders and institutes became involved in preparing teachers for Catholic schools and, later, nurses for Catholic hospitals. Through a series of amalgamations, relocations, transfers of responsibilities and diocesan initiatives, more than 20 historical entities have contributed to the creation of the University.
The University is a member of the publicly-funded national system of Australian universities, the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the International Federation of Catholic Universities. The University's Vice-Chancellor is a member of Universities Australia.