University of Sydney

The University of Sydney, founded in 1850, is Australia's first university, and has an international reputation for outstanding teaching, as a centre of research excellence and as an active and engaged community leader.

During 1848, William Wentworth proposed a plan to expand the existing Sydney College into a university in the Legislative Council. Wentworth argued that a state university was imperative for the growth of a society aspiring towards self-government, and that it would provide the opportunity for 'the child of every class, to become great and useful in the destinies of his country'. It would take two attempts on Wentworth's behalf however, before the plan was finally adopted.

The University was established via the passage of the University of Sydney Act which was signed on 1 October 1850. Two years later, the University was inaugurated on 11 October 1852 in the Big Schoolroom of what is now Sydney Grammar School. The first principal was John Woolley. On 27 February 1858 the University received its Royal Charter from Queen Victoria, giving degrees conferred by the University equal rank and recognition as those given by universities in the UK . By 1859, the university had moved to its current site in the Sydney suburb of Camperdown.

In 1858, the passage of the Electoral Act provided for the university to become a constituency for the Legislative Assembly as soon as there were 100 graduates with higher degrees. This seat in Parliament was first filled in 1876, but was abolished in 1880 one year after its second Member, Edmund Barton, was elected to the Legislative Assembly.

Most of the estate of John Henry Challis was bequeathed to the university, which received a sum of £200,000 in 1889. This was thanks in part due to William Montagu Manning (chancellor 1878–1895) who argued against the claims by British Tax Commissioners. The following year seven professorships were created; anatomy, zoology, engineering, history, law, logic & mental philosophy, and modern literature.
Under the terms of the Higher Education (Amalgamation) Act 1989 (NSW) the following bodies were incorporated into the University in 1990:
the Sydney Branch of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music
the Cumberland College of Health Sciences
the Sydney College of the Arts of the Institute of the Arts
the Sydney Institute of Education of the Sydney College of Advanced Education
the Institute of Nursing Studies of the Sydney College of Advanced Education
the Guild Centre of the Sydney College of Advanced Education.

Prior to 1981, the Sydney Institute of Education was the Sydney Teachers College.

The Orange Agricultural College (OAC) was originally transferred to the University of New England under the Act, but then transferred to the University of Sydney in 1994, as part of the reforms to the University of New England undertaken by the University of New England Act 1993 and the Southern Cross University Act 1993. In January 2005, the University of Sydney transferred the OAC to Charles Sturt University.

The New England University College was founded as part of the University of Sydney in 1938, and separated to become the University of New England in 1954.

In 2001, University of Sydney Chancellor Dame Leonie Kramer was forced to resign by the University’s governing body. In 2003, Nick Greiner, a former Premier of NSW, resigned from his position as Chairman of the University's Graduate School of Management because of academic protests against his simultaneous chairmanship of British American Tobacco (Australia). Subsequently, his wife, Kathryn Greiner, resigned in protest from the two positions she held at the University as Chairwoman of the Sydney Peace Foundation and a member of the executive council of the Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific. In 2005, the Public Service Association of NSW and the Community and Public Sector Union were in dispute with the University over a proposal to privatise security at the main campus (and the Cumberland campus.)

In February 2007, the University agreed to acquire a portion of the land granted to St John's College to develop the Sydney Institute of Health and Medical Research. As a Catholic institution, in handing over the land St John's placed limitations on the type of medical research that can be conducted on the premises seeking to preserve the essence of the College mission. This has caused concern among the some groups who argue this could interfere with scientific medical research. However this is rejected by the university administration because the building is not intended for this purpose and there are many other facilities in close proximity where such research can take place.

The University of Sydney continues to rise in global rankings, confirming its place within the top 40 universities in the world.

  • The University’s humanities teaching and research was ranked fifth best in the world in the UK’s Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) World University Rankings published in October 2006.
  • The University as a whole was ranked 35th in the world in the same league table.
  • In the Newsweek global 100 for 2006, the University of Sydney was one of two Australian universities placed in the top 50 in the world.
As one of Australia’s leading universities, the University of Sydney is a key member of:
  • the Group of Eight – representing Australia’s leading research-intensive universities
  • Academic Consortium 21 (AC21) – an international network of educational, research and industrial organisations in Asia, the United States and Europe
  • the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) – Sydney is one of three Australian institutions in this group of prestigious universities drawn from Asia, the United States and South America, and
  • the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) – an international alliance of 16 leading research universities.
The University of Sydney measures its organisational performance by benchmarking against world class peers and industry. Key benchmarking activities include:
  • benchmarking of student data with Oxford, Queensland and Melbourne Universities
  • the provision of expert advice to parallel programs at UCL, Edinburgh and Hong Kong Universities, and
  • ICT policy development in collaboration with the Open University.

  • The benefits from such benchmarking activities are clear. The Learning Community Scale was developed in conjunction with Oxford University. The development of the MEd (Higher Education) program was a result of benchmarking with Edinburgh University.

  • Professional accreditation is another way the University’s professional faculties benchmark themselves and the quality of their programs. The University has relationships with 41 accrediting bodies, including six international bodies.


The University comprises sixteen faculties:
Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning
Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Dentistry
Faculty of Economics and Business
Faculty of Education and Social Work
Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies
Faculty of Fine Arts
Faculty of Health Sciences
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Medicine
Faculty of Music
Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery
Faculty of Pharmacy
Faculty of Science
Faculty of Veterinary Science

The four largest faculties by (2007) student enrollments are (in descending order): Economics and Business; Arts; Health Sciences; Science. Together they comprise 57% of the University's students. Each contains a student enrollment over 5,000, and they are indeed the only such faculties. It is notable that the Faculty of Economics and Business, disproportionately to other Faculties consists of about 49% international students, whilst the University-wide average rate is about 22% (2008).

The University is committed to the communities to which it belongs internationally, nationally and locally. Numerous community links have been forged by academic and research disciplines as well as dedicated units such as the Koori Centre and Yooroang Garang, which work closely with Indigenous communities.

Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Sydney College of the Arts, the University Museums and the Seymour Theatre Centre open the University’s cultural life to the community. In 2006, around 50,000 people visited the University’s outstanding Museums; a further 22,000 attended Conservatorium performances and 170,000 went to performances and public lectures at the Seymour Centre. A further 21,000 people participate each year in community education courses offered by the Centre for Continuing Education.

Many student organisations, such as the debating club and drama society, have long traditions of enriching student life and providing a springboard for future careers. High profile Australians such as Prime Minister John Howard, Justice Michael Kirby and radio presenter Adam Spencer have been University of Sydney debaters.

Sydney University Sport has produced more Australian representatives and won more major competitions than any other club. Most recently:
  • basketball player Belinda Snell and 400m relay runner Clinton Hill both won gold medals at the 2006 Commonwealth Games
  • another four Sydney University athletes took silver medals at the Commonwealth Games
  • Sydney University Rugby Club retained the Tooheys New Cup, winning the premier Sydney grade championship
  • Sydney University’s Men’s VIII rowing team won the Oxford and Cambridge Cup for the third year in a row, and
  • the Australian Women’s Water Polo team, featuring Sydney University Lions Fiona Hammond and Tanielle Gofers, won the World Championship.
University of Sydney ranked 31st in the THES-QS 2007 World University Ranking

University of Sydney ranked 37th in the THES-QS 2008 World University Ranking

University of Sydney ranked 36th in the THES-QS 2009 World University Ranking

University of Sydney ranked 37th in the QS 2010 World University Ranking

University of Sydney ranked 38th in the QS 2011 World University Ranking

1 comment:

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The roots of education are bitter, but the fruits is sweet ~ Aristotle

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world ~ Nelson Mandela

Education is not a preparation for life, Education is life itself ~ John Dewey
William Butler Yeats: Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.