The University of Sydney
, or informally Sydney Uni
) is an Australian public research university
. Founded in 1850, it is Australia's first university and is regarded as one of the world's leading universities. The university is known as one of Australia's six sandstone universities
. Its campus, spreading across the inner-city suburbs of Camperdown
, is ranked in the top 10 of the world's most beautiful universities by the British Daily Telegraph
and the American Huffington Post
The university comprises eight academic faculties and university schools, through which it offers bachelor, master and doctoral degrees.
The QS World University Rankings
ranked the university as one of the world's top 25 universities for academic reputation,
and top 5 in the world and first in Australia for graduate employability.
It is one of the first universities in the world to admit students solely on academic merit, and opened their doors to women on the same basis as men.
The university was established via the passage of the University of Sydney Act,
on 24 September 1850 and was assented on 1 October 1850 by Sir Charles Fitzroy
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
the first professor of chemistry and experimental physics was John Smith
On 27 February 1858, the university received its Royal Charter
from Queen Victoria
, giving degrees conferred by the university rank and recognition equal to those given by universities in the United Kingdom
By 1859, the university had moved to its current site in the Sydney suburb of Camperdown
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 Sir William Montagu Manning
(Chancellor 1878–95) who argued against the claims by British Tax Commissioners. The following year seven professorships were created: anatomy; zoology; engineering; history; law; logic and mental philosophy; and modern literature.
A significant figure from 1927 to 1958, termed 'Sydney's best known academic',
was the Professor of Philosophy at the university John Anderson
. A native of Scotland
, Anderson's controversial views as a self-proclaimed Atheist
and advocate of free thought
in all subjects raised the ire of many, even to the point of being censured by the state parliament in 1943.
During the late 1960s, the University of Sydney was at the centre of rows to introduce courses on Marxism
at the major Australian universities. At one stage, newspaper reporters descended on the university to cover brawls, demonstrations, secret memos and a walk-out by David Armstrong
, a respected philosopher who held the Challis Chair of Philosophy from 1959 to 1991, after students at one of his lectures openly demanded a course on feminism.
The Builders Labourers Federation
placed a green ban
on the university after two women tutors were not allowed to teach a course but the issue was quickly resolved internally.
Under the terms of the Higher Education (Amalgamation) Act 1989 (NSW),
the following bodies were incorporated into the university in 1990:
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
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, now the Charles Perkins Centre
, the first new research building to be built on campus in over 40 years. As a Roman Catholic institution, in handing over the land St John's placed limitations on the type of medical research which could be conducted on the premises, seeking to preserve the essence of the college's mission. This caused concern among some groups, who argued that it would interfere with scientific medical research. However, this was rejected by the university's administration because the building was not intended for this purpose and there were many other facilities in close proximity where such research could take place.
In 2010 the university received a rarely seen Pablo Picasso
painting from the private collection of an anonymous donor. The painting, Jeune Fille Endormie
, which had never been publicly seen since 1939, depicts the artist's lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter
and was donated on the strict understanding that it would be sold and the proceeds directed to medical research.
In June 2011, the painting was auctioned at Christie's
in London and sold for £13.5 million ($20.6 million AUD). The proceeds of the sale funded the establishment of many endowed professorial chairs at the Charles Perkins Centre
, where a room dedicated to the painting, now exists.
At the start of 2010, the university controversially adopted a new logo. It retains the same university arms, however it takes on a more modern look. There have been stylistic changes, the main one being the coat of arm's mantling
, the shape of the escutcheon
(shield), the removal of the motto scroll, and also others more subtle within the arms itself, such as the mane and fur of the lion, the number of lines in the open book and the colouration.
The original Coat of Arms from 1857 continues to be used for ceremonial and other formal purposes, such as on testamurs.
Concerns about public funding for higher education were reflected again in 2014 following the federal government's proposal to deregulate student fees
. The university held a wide-ranging consultation process, which included a "town hall meeting" at the university's Great Hall 25 August 2014, where an audience of students, staff and alumni expressed deep concern about the government's plans and called on university leadership to lobby against the proposals.
Spence took a leading position among Australian vice-chancellors in repeatedly calling throughout 2014 for any change to funding to not undermine equitable access to university while arguing for fee deregulation to raise course costs for the majority of higher education students.
In order to further enhance its competitiveness locally and internationally, the university has introduced plans to consolidate existing degrees to reduce the overall number of programs.
In 2001, the 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 New South Wales
, resigned from his position as chair 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 chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation and a member of the executive council of the Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific.
Action initiated by Spence to improve the financial sustainability of the university has alienated some students and staff.
In 2012, Spence led efforts to cut the university's expenditure to address the financial impact of a slowdown in international student enrolments across Australia. This included redundancies of a number of university staff and faculty, though some at the university argued that the institution should cut back on building programs instead.
Critics argue the push for savings has been driven by managerial incompetence and indifference,
fuelling industrial action during a round of enterprise bargaining in 2013 that also reflected widespread concerns about public funding for higher education.
An internal staff survey in 2012/13, which found widespread dissatisfaction with how the university is being managed.
Asked to rate their level of agreement with a series of statements about the university, 19 per cent of those surveyed believed "change and innovation" were handled well by the university. In the survey, 75 per cent of university staff indicated senior executives were not listening to them, while only 22 per cent said change was handled well and 33 per cent said senior executives were good role models.
In the first week of semester, some staff passed a motion of no confidence in Spence because of concerns he was pushing staff to improve the budget while he received a performance bonus of $155,000 that took his total pay to $1 million, in the top 0.1 per cent of income earners in Australia. Fairfax
reports Spence and other Uni bosses have salary packages worth ten times more than staff salaries and double that of the Prime Minister.
During Spence's term, the university community was divided over allowing students from an elite private school, Scots College
, to enter university via a "pathway of privilege" by means of enrolling in a Diploma of Tertiary Preparation rather than meeting HSC entry requirements.
The university charged students $12,000 to take the course and have since successfully admitted a number of students to degree courses. An exposé by Fairfax which turned out to be based on a misunderstanding as to VET and UAC matriculation standards, the scheme has been criticised by Phillip Heath, the national chairman of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia.
An investigation by Fairfax in 2015 revealed widespread cheating at universities across NSW, including the University of Sydney.
The university established a taskforce on academic misconduct in April 2015 to maintain its leadership position in preventing incidences of cheating and academic misconduct.
A 2016 investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation
exposed corporate deals between the Veterinary Faculty and large pet food companies had resulted in the withholding of harmful cat food product tested to protect corporate sponsors.
The Institute of Public Affairs
’ third (2018) annual audit of free speech on Australian campuses has named the University of Sydney, the Australian National University
and James Cook University
as the most hostile to free speech based on measures that “aggregate (the) number of problematic policies and actions”.
An appendix, provided by the Institute of Public Affairs, listed 51 alleged incidents at 20 universities in which freedom of expression was said to have come under attack. The University of Sydney accounted for the largest (19 out of 51 or 37%) of those alleged incidents. A national code to protect freedom of speech at universities has been endorsed by the federal government. It is intended to counter the risk of overreach by university administrators and aims to restrain rules that stifle opinions that some might consider unwelcome, offensive or even insulting.
In the 2019 Student Experience Survey, the University of Sydney recorded the second lowest student satisfaction rating out of all Australian universities, and the second lowest student satisfaction rating out of all New South Wales universities, with an overall satisfaction rating of 74.2; this was lower than the national average rating of 78.4.
The Main Campus
The main campus has been ranked in the top 10 of the world's most beautiful universities by the British Daily Telegraph
and the American Huffington Post
, among others such as Oxford
, and Cambridge
and is spread across the inner-city suburbs of Camperdown and Darlington.
Originally housed in what is now Sydney Grammar School
, in 1855 the government granted land in Grose Farm to the university, three kilometres from the city, which is now the main Camperdown
campus. In 1854 the architect Edmund Blacket
accepted a senate invitation for the first buildings to be designed. In 1858 the Great Hall
was finished, and in 1859 the Main Building was built. He composed the original Neo-Gothic sandstone Quadrangle and Great Tower buildings, which were completed in 1862.
The rapid expansion of the university in the mid-20th century resulted in the acquisition of land in Darlington across City Road. The Camperdown/Darlington campus houses the university's administrative headquarters, and the Faculties of Arts, Science, Education and Social Work, Pharmacy, Veterinary Science, Economics and Business, Architecture, and Engineering. It is also the home base of the large Sydney Medical School
, which has numerous affiliated teaching hospitals across the state.
The main campus is also the focus of the university's student life, with the student-run University of Sydney Union
(once referred to as "the Union", but now known as "the USU") in possession of three buildings – Wentworth, Manning and Holme Buildings. These buildings house a large proportion of the university's catering outlets, and provide space for recreational rooms, bars and function centres. One of the largest activities organised by the Union is Welcome Week (formerly Orientation Week or 'O-week'
), a three-day festival at the start of the academic year. Welcome Week centres on stalls set up by clubs and societies on the Front Lawns.
The main campus is home to a variety of statues, artworks, and monuments. These include the Gilgamesh Statue
and the Confucius Statue.
The 2002 conservation plan of the university stated that the Main Building and Quadrangle, Anderson Stuart Building, Gate Lodges, St Paul's College, St John's College and St Andrew's College "comprise what is arguably the most important group of Gothic
and Tudor Revival style architecture
in Australia, and the landscape and grounds features associated with these buildings, including Victoria Park
, contribute to and support the existence and appreciation of their architectural qualities and aesthetic significance."
As of 2016, the university is undertaking a large capital works program with the aim of revitalising the campus and providing more office, teaching and student space.
The program will see the amalgamation of the smaller science and technical libraries into a larger library, and the construction of a central administration and student services building along City Road. A new building for the School of Information Technologies opened in late 2006 and has been located on a site adjacent to the Seymour Centre
. The busy Eastern Avenue thoroughfare has been transformed into a pedestrian plaza and a new footbridge has been built over City Road. The new home for the Sydney Law School
, located alongside Fisher Library on the site of the old Edgeworth David
and Stephen Roberts buildings, has been completed. The university opened a new building called "Abercrombie Building" for business school students in early 2016.
From 2007, the university has used space in the former Eveleigh
railway yards, just to the south of Darlington
, for examination purposes.
The beginning of 2021 saw the closure of the Cumberland campus, with multiple health disciplines returning to the Camperdown campus in the state-of-the-art, purpose built Susan Wakil Health Building.
- Sydney Dental Hospital located in Surry Hills and the Westmead Centre for Oral Health is attached to Westmead Hospital.
- The Sydney Conservatorium of Music: Formerly the NSW State Conservatorium of Music, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (SCM) is located in the Sydney CBD on the edge of Sydney's Royal Botanic Garden, a short distance from the Sydney Opera House. It became a faculty of the university in the 1990s and incorporates the main campus Department of Music, which was the subject of the documentary Facing the Music.
- Camden campus: Located in one of the most rapidly growing peri-urban areas in the country, Sydney's southwest. The Camden campus houses lecture theatres, research institutes, veterinary clinics and research farms for bioscience, environmental science, agriculture and veterinary science.
- Sydney CBD campus: The University of Sydney Business School CBD campus is located on Castlereagh Street in the heart of Sydney's CBD close to Town Hall station.
The university also uses a number of other facilities for its teaching activities.
The University of Sydney Library
consists of 11 individual libraries located across the university's various campuses. The Fisher and Health sciences libraries offer disability support services.
According to the library's publications, it is the largest academic library in the southern hemisphere
university statistics show that in 2007 the collection consisted of just under 5 million physical volumes and a further 300,000 e-books
, for a total of approximately 5.3 million items.
It is also the only university in Australia to be a state legal deposit library
according to the Copyright Act 1968
which stipulates that a copy of every printed material published in NSW be sent to the University Library. The Rare Books Library possesses several extremely rare items, including one of the two extant copies of the Gospel of Barnabas
and a first edition of Sir Isaac Newton
's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica
Centre for Continuing Education
Museums and galleries
The interior of the Chau Chak Wing Museum
The Chau Chak Wing Museum
showcases the university's art, natural history and antiquities collections. Located opposite the quadrangle buildings, the museum opened to the public in November 2020. It houses the Nicholson Collection of antiquities, the Macleay Collections of natural history, ethnography, science and photography, and the University Art Collection. The museum is named after Chau Chak Wing
, a Chinese-Australian businessman and philanthropist.
- The Nicholson Collection of archaeology is the largest collection of antiquities in Australia. The Nicholson Museum was founded in 1860 by the donation of Sir Charles Nicholson (Sydney University's second chancellor 1854-1862). It is also the country's oldest university museum and features ancient artefacts from Egypt, the Middle East, Greece, Rome, Cyprus and Mesopotamia, collected by the university over many years and added to by recent archaeological expeditions. The museum was located in the historic Main Quadrangle at the university. The Nicholson Museum closed to the public in 2020, ahead of the opening of the Chau Chak Wing Museum.
- The Macleay Collection is named after Alexander Macleay, whose collection of insects begun in the late 18th century was the basis upon which the Macleay Museum was founded in 1887. It is the oldest collection of natural history in Australia and has developed into a major collection of natural history specimens, ethnographic artefacts, scientific instruments and historic photographs. The Macleay Museum closed to the public in 2016 ahead of the opening of the Chau Chak Wing Museum.
- The University Art Collection was founded in the 1860s and contains more than 7,000 pieces, constantly growing through donation, bequests and acquisition. The University Art Gallery opened in 1959. The gallery hosted numerous exhibitions until 1972, when it was taken over for office space. The gallery closed to the public in 2016 ahead of the opening of the Chau Chak Wing Museum.
Other collections and galleries
Halls of residence and residential colleges
The university has a number of halls of residence
(based on research-lead living-learning principles) and residential colleges
, each with its own distinctive style and facilities. All offer a wide range of cultural, social, sporting and leadership activities along with targeted academic support in a supportive communal environment. The Halls of Residence are owned and operated by the University Accommodation Service.
Starting in 2013, the university committed to creating the Halls of Residence (an additional 4,000-6,000 residential places) at an affordable price to enhance the educational experience of living on campus and to offer more students a rich academic environment in which to live.
- The Queen Mary Building
- Abercrombie Student Accommodation
- Regiment Hall
The University Student Accommodation Service were awarded the Asia-Pacific Student Housing Operation of the Year & Excellence in Facility Development and Management in 2016.
The Student Accommodation Service and the Mana Yura Student Support Service were the first in Australia to implement an Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander
On-Campus Residence Halls Scholarship Guarantee.
Affiliated with the university are six religiously denominated colleges. Unlike some residential colleges in British or American universities, the colleges are not affiliated with any specific discipline of study.
A quarter of the university's female students residing in university colleges have been found to face sexual harassment.
Between 2011 and 2016, there were 52 officially reported cases of sexual abuse and harassment on campus released by the university, resulting in 1 expulsion, 1 suspension and 4 reprimands.
This is less than the 2017 Australian Human Rights Commission
report on sexual assault and harassment which found reported figures substantially higher than this.
71% of students surveyed in 2017 reported not knowing how to make a report relating to sexual assault or harassment. Imogen Grant from the SRC
said students who had experienced sexual assault had come forward believing that "navigating the university bureaucracy exacerbates trauma and often seems futile".
Previously a 2015 survey of 2000 students found that 57 per cent of respondents did not know where to seek help or how to report sexual misconduct at USYD, and only 1.4% of all serious sexual incidents are reported.
After the release of the 2017 report the vice-chancellor said the university was committed to implementing "all of the recommendations contained in the report".
Graphic videos emerged in 2018 of male students bragging of their sexual feats over the female students, particularly first-years.
The university comprises eight faculties and schools:
The 2021 QS World University Rankings
ranked the University of Sydney at 40th in the world,
2nd nationally and top-ranked university in New South Wales. In addition, it is ranked 27th in the world by academic reputation.
By subject, QS ranked the university in the top 50 across all five broad subject areas.
- 15th in Arts and Humanities
- 39th in Engineering and Technology
- 15th in Life Sciences and Medicine
- 43rd in Natural Sciences
- 14th in Social Sciences and Management
Additionally, the University of Sydney is ranked 2nd in Sports-related Subjects, 10th in Anatomy & Physiology, 11th in Veterinary Science, 12th in Education, 14th in Law and Legal Studies, 15th in Nursing, 16th in Architecture, 18th in Accounting and Finance, 18th in English Language and Literature, 18th in Medicine and 18th in Pharmacy and Pharmacology.
- 58th in Arts and Humanities
- 37th in Clinical, Pre-clinical and Health
- 76th in Engineering and Technology
- 47th in Life Sciences
- 97th in Physical Sciences
- 68th in Social Sciences
- 83rd in Business and Economics
- 101-125th in Computer Science
- 33rd in Law
- 24th in Education
- 65th in Psychology
The 2021 US News & World Report
's Best Global Universities Rankings placed the University of Sydney 27th in the world and 2nd in Australia.
In the 2020 Academic Ranking of World Universities
published by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy, the University of Sydney is ranked 74th and in the top 0.7% of the top 1000 universities in the world.
The London-based Financial Times
has ranked the University of Sydney Business School's flagship Master of Management
as Australia's number one program of its kind for the eighth consecutive year since 2013. The Master of Management (MMgt) program was also ranked in the world's top 5 for "career progress" made by its graduates in 2019.
In terms of alumni wealth, the number of wealthy Sydney alumni was ranked 5th outside the United States, behind Oxford, Mumbai
, Cambridge and the London School of Economics
according to the American Broadcasting Company
Business magazine Spear's
placed the University of Sydney 44th in the world and 2nd in Australia in its table of "World's top 100 universities for producing millionaires".
Endowments and research grants
The Madsen Building (former headquarters of CSIRO
The university has received a number of significant bequests and legacies over its history. The following are current professorships (chairs), funds and fellowships which are funded by bequests and legacies and named after benefactors:
Coat of arms
Arms used in the University of Sydney logo, pre-2010
The Grant of Arms was made by the College of Arms
in 1857. The grant reads:
Argent on a Cross Azure an open book proper, clasps Gold, between four Stars of eight points Or, on a chief Gules a Lion passant Guardant also Or, together with this motto "Sidere mens eadem mutato" to be borne and used forever hereafter by the said University of Sydney on their Common Seal, Shields or otherwise according to the Law of Arms.
The use of eight-pointed stars was unusual for arms at the time, although they had been used unofficially as emblems for New South Wales since the 1820s and on the arms of the Church of England Diocese of Australia in 1836.
According to the university, the Latin motto Sidere mens eadem mutato
can be translated to "the stars change, the mind remains the same."Francis Merewether
, Vice-Chancellor and later Chancellor, in 1857 proposed "Coelum non animum mutant" from Horace (Ep.1.11.27) but after objections changed it to a metrical version including "Sidus" (Star), a neat reference to the Southern Cross
and perhaps the Sydney family link with Sir Philip Sidney
's "Astrophel (Star-Lover) & Stella (Star)".
Author and university alumnus Clive James
quipped in his 1981 autobiography that the motto loosely implies "Sydney University is really Oxford or Cambridge laterally displaced approximately 12,000 miles."
Welcome Week at the university place
- Student Representatives: Politically and academically, undergraduate students are represented by the University of Sydney Students' Representative Council (SRC) and postgraduate students by the Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA).
- University of Sydney Union: The University of Sydney Union (USU) is the oldest and largest university union in Australia. USU provides a range of activities, programs, services and facilities geared at giving students the university experience. This involves delivering clubs and societies program, a varied entertainment program, student opportunities, a range of catering and retail services plus buildings and recreational spaces for students, staff and visitors.
The SRC and Union are both governed by student representatives, who are elected by students each year. Elections for the USU board of directors occur in first semester; elections for the SRC President, and for members of the Students' Representative Council itself, occur in second semester, along with a separate election for the editorial board of the student newspaper Honi Soit
, which is published by the SRC. The elections are usually closely contested, and result in much of the main campus being covered with chalk messages from the various candidates.
In February 2017, individuals who wanted to serve and get on the University of Sydney student council needed to sign a statutory declaration
- openly declaring that they are gay, lesbian, bi, trans, intersex or non-binary to automatically fill hard-line "diversity quotas".
University of Sydney alumni have made significant contributions to both Australia and the world for the past 171 years.
The University of Sydney has seen a considerable increase in number of visitors, specifically, a 4,000 visitor increase between 2017 and 2019.
A contributing factor to this surge in traffic is linked to Chinese tourists visiting the university due to travel agencies mistakenly advertising the Quadrangle
as the film set for the Harry Potter
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Last edited on 8 May 2021, at 01:29
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