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Historical Development of Australian Universities Sector

History of Australian Universities Sector

The Australian university sector has grown rapidly since the middle 1980s after a history of relatively slow growth up until that point.

The two original universities, University of Sydney and University of Melbourne, formed at the beginning of the 1850s, had the field to themselves until 1874 when the University of Adelaide opened, followed by the University of Tasmania in 1890. The only other universities commencing operations before the end of the Second World War were the University of Queensland in 1890 and then the University of Western Australia in 1911.

It was not until after the war that the university sector started to develop momentum, albeit initially at a very slow rate. This began with the establishment of the Australian National University in 1946, followed by another three universities up until 1958.

In 1964 a new wave of growth commenced which saw the establishment of another nine universities up until 1975.

Following this it was another 12 years until Curtin University became the next accredited university, in 1987, marking the beginning of a massive expansion of the university sector which saw 20 new universities accredited between 1987 and 1999, 1999 being the last year a new university opened.

NOTE: Click the ‘State’ header to sort the table by State

Historical Development of Australian Universities – Start Dates
University State (pre) Start
University of Sydney (sydney) NSW 1850
University of Melbourne (unimelb) VIC 1853
University of Adelaide (adelaide) SA 1874
University of Tasmania (utas) TAS 1890
University of Queensland (uq) QLD 1909
University of Western Australia (uwa) WA 1911
Australian National University (anu) ACT 1946
University of New South Wales (unsw) NSW 1949
University of New England (une) NSW (1938) 1954
Monash University (monash) VIC 1958
Macquarie University (mq) NSW 1964
La Trobe University (latrobe) VIC 1965
University of Newcastle (newcastle) NSW 1965
Flinders University (flinders) SA 1966
James Cook University (jcu) QLD 1970
Griffith University (griffith) QLD 1971
Murdoch University (murdoch) WA 1973
Deakin University (deakin) VIC 1974
University of Wollongong (uow) NSW (1951) 1975
Curtin University (curtin) WA (1967) 1987
Charles Darwin University (cdu) NT (1974) 1988
Queensland University of Technology (qut) QLD (1882) 1988
University of Technology Sydney (uts) NSW (1965) 1988
Bond University (bond) QLD 1989
University of Western Sydney (uws) NSW 1989
Charles Sturt University (csu) NSW 1990
University of Canberra (canberra) ACT (1967) 1990
University of Notre Dame (nd) WA 1990
Australian Catholic University (acu) MULTI (1850) 1991
Edith Cowan University (ecu) WA (1902) 1991
University of South Australia (unisa) SA 1991
CQ University (cqu) QLD (1967) 1992
RMIT University (rmit) VIC (1887) 1992
Swinburne University of Technology (swinburne) VIC (1908) 1992
University of Southern Queensland (usq) QLD (1967) 1992
Victoria University (vu) VIC 1992
Southern Cross University (scu) QLD (1970) 1994
Federation University (feduni) VIC (1871) 1992
University of the Sunshine Coast (usc) QLD (1995) 1999

Key & Notes

* Start: – ‘Start’ denotes the year the institution first started operating as a university

* pre: – ‘pre’ denotes the year the institution or its main predecessor first started operating as an educational facility prior to it commencing operations as a university

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