Flinders University

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Flinders University
Coat of arms of Flinders University.svg
Motto"Inspiring Achievement"
ChancellorStephen Gerlach AM
Vice-ChancellorProfessor Colin Stirling
Academic staff
997 (2020)
Administrative staff
1,309 (2020)
Students26,139 (2020)
Location, ,
CampusBedford Park, Tonsley, Victoria Square
OrganisationsIRU Australia

Flinders University is a public research university in Adelaide, South Australia. Founded in 1966, it was named in honour of British navigator Matthew Flinders, who explored and surveyed the South Australian coastline in the early 19th century.

Flinders is a verdant university and a member of the Innovative Research Universities (IRU) Group.[1] Academically, the university pioneered a cross-disciplinary approach to education,[citation needed] and its faculties of medicine and the humanities have been ranked among the nation's top 10.[2]

The 2021 Times Higher Education ranking of the world's top universities ranks Flinders in the 251 – 300th bracket.[3]


Origins and construction[edit]

By the late 1950s, the University of Adelaide's North Terrace campus was approaching capacity. In 1960, Premier Thomas Playford announced that 150 hectares (370 acres) of state government-owned land in Burbank (now Bedford Park) would be allocated to the University of Adelaide for the establishment of a second campus.[4]

Planning began in 1961. The principal-designate of the new campus, economist and professor Peter Karmel, was adamant that the new campus should operate independently from the North Terrace campus. He hoped that the Bedford Park campus would be free to innovate and not be bound by tradition.[4]

Capital works began in 1962 with a grant of £3.8 million from the Australian Universities Commission. Architect Geoff Harrison, in conjunction with architectural firm Hassell, McConnell and Partners, designed a new university that, with future expansions, could eventually accommodate up to 6000 students.[4]

Independence and opening[edit]

In 1965, the Australian Labor Party won the state election and Frank Walsh became premier. The ALP wished to break up the University of Adelaide's hegemony over tertiary education in the state, and announced that they intended the Bedford Park campus to be an independent institution.[4]

On 17 March 1966, a bill was passed by state parliament officially creating the Flinders University of South Australia.[5] Although the Labor Party had favoured the name "University of South Australia", academic staff wished that the university be named after a "distinguished but uncontroversial" person. They settled upon British navigator Matthew Flinders, who explored and surveyed the South Australian coastline in 1802. Its coat of arms, designed by a professor in the Fine Arts faculty, includes a reproduction of Flinders' ship Investigator and his journal A Voyage to Terra Australis, open to the page in which Flinders described the coast adjacent the campus site.[4]

Flinders University was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, on 25 March 1966.[5] Peter Karmel was the first Vice-Chancellor and Sir Mark Mitchell the first Chancellor. The university began classes on 7 March 1966 with a student enrollment of 400.

A significant early initiative was the decision to build the Flinders Medical Centre on land adjacent to the campus and to base the university's Medical School within this new public hospital – the first such integration in Australia. Flinders first accepted undergraduate medical students in 1974, with FMC being opened the following year.[5]

Expansion and restructuring[edit]

View of Flinders University main campus, with central plaza and lakeside area visible.

In 1990, the biggest building project on campus since the mid-1970s saw work commence on three new buildings – Law and Commerce; Engineering; and Information Science and Technology. Approval for the establishment of a School of Engineering was given in 1991 and degrees in Electrical and Electronic Engineering[6] and Biomedical Engineering[7] were established shortly afterwards.

In 1991, as part of a restructuring of higher education in South Australia, Flinders merged with the adjacent Sturt Campus of the former South Australian College of Advanced Education.

In 1992 a four-faculty structure was adopted.

In 1998, the Centre for Remote Health, a rural teaching hospital based in Alice Springs, was established jointly with the Northern Territory University (now Charles Darwin University). This was expanded further in 2011 with the establishment of the Northern Territory Medical Program.[8]

Since 2000 the university has established new disciplines in areas including Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and more disciplines of Engineering.[9][10]

In 2011, the bacteria genus Flindersiella was named after the university after the strain was found on a tree on campus grounds.[11]

In 2015, the university opened a new campus at Tonsley,[12] the former site of the Mitsubishi Motors Australia plant in Southern Adelaide. This campus houses the university's School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics,[13] along with the Medical Device Research Institute,[14] the Centre for Nanoscale Science and Technology (now known as the Flinders Institute for Nanoscale Science & Technology)[15] and Flinders technology start-up company Re-Timer.[16]

In 2016, the university celebrated its 50th anniversary with a calendar of public events,[17] and a publication[18] summarising the highlights of the university's history, research, and alumni achievements over the last 50 years.[19] 2016 also saw the opening of the award-winning student hub and plaza, transforming the central campus.[20]

On 1 July 2017, the university restructured from a two-tier academic system of four faculties and 14 schools, to a single-tier structure consisting of six colleges.[21]

The university's strategic plan Making a Difference - The 2025 Agenda released in 2016 set an ambitious vision for the coming decade for Flinders to reach the top ten of Australian Universities, and the top one per cent in the world.[22]

In 2019 the university announced an additional $100 million investment in research and a further $100 million in education over a five-year period to support it to meet its strategic goals.[23]

The university also in 2019 announced plans for a substantial development on a tract on land on the northern portion of the Bedford Park Campus adjacent to the Flinders hospitals precinct. Known as Flinders Village it comprises research facilities, student accommodation, commercial premises and amenities.[24] The catalyst for the initiative was the extension of the Clovelly Park rail line to the Flinders precinct. The $141m rail line and Flinders Station project began operation in December 2020.[25][circular reference] Stage one of the Flinders Village development is construction of a Health and Medical Research Building, scheduled to commence in December 2021, which will be home to Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute.[26]

In 2022, the topic of a merger of the state's three universities was raised by the new government led by Peter Malinauskas, which proposed setting up a commission to investigate the possibility of a merger of UniSA, University of Adelaide and Flinders University. Staff's opinions were evenly divided on the idea of such a commission.[27]


The university's main campus is in the Adelaide inner southern suburb of Bedford Park, about 12 km south of the Adelaide city centre.[28] The university also has a presence in Victoria Square in the centre of the city,[29] and Tonsley.[30] It also maintains a number of external teaching facilities in regional South Australia, south-west Victoria and the Northern Territory. As of 2020 international students made up 19.5% of the on-campus student population[31] and a number of offshore programmes are also offered, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region.


View of the courtyard of the Humanities building of the Flinders University.

Flinders University offers more than 160 undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as higher degree research supervision across all disciplines. Many courses use new information and communication technologies to supplement face-to-face teaching and provide flexible options.


  • College of Business, Government and Law[32]
  • College of Education, Psychology and Social Work[33]
  • College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences[34]
  • College of Medicine and Public Health[35]
  • College of Nursing and Health Sciences[36]
  • College of Science and Engineering[37]


Sir Eric Neal, Chancellor of Flinders University (2002–2010)
Sir Eric Neal, Chancellor of Flinders University (2002–2010)
Prof. Colin Stirling, Vice Chancellor (2015–present)
Prof. Colin Stirling, Vice Chancellor (2015–present)

Flinders University has been served by six Chancellors and eight Vice Chancellors since its establishment in 1966. They are:[38]

Name Years Position
Peter Karmel 1966–1971 Vice Chancellor
Mark Mitchell 1966–1971 Chancellor
Charles Hart Bright 1971–1983 Chancellor
Roger Russell 1972–1979 Vice Chancellor
Keith Hancock 1980–1987 Vice Chancellor
Francis Robert Fisher 1983–1988 Chancellor
John Francis Lovering 1987–1994 Vice Chancellor
Deirdre Frances Jordan 1988–2002 Chancellor
Ian Chubb 1995–2000 Vice Chancellor
Anne Edwards AO 2001–2007 Vice Chancellor
Sir Eric Neal 2002–2010 Chancellor
Michael Barber 2008–2014 Vice Chancellor
Stephen Gerlach 2010–present Chancellor
Colin Stirling 2015–present Vice Chancellor


Academic profile[edit]


University rankings
Flinders University
QS World[40]423
THE World[41]251–300
ARWU World[42]401–500
US News World[43]435
Australian rankings
QS National[40]23
THE National[44]18-22
ARWU National[45]23
US News National[46]24
ERA National[47]21

The university is amongst the world's top 300 institutions according to the Times Higher Education rankings. The 2020 Times Higher Education rankings of the world's top universities ranked Flinders University in the 251–300 bracket.[3]

Student life[edit]


Flinders is the only South Australian university with on-campus accommodation in the Adelaide metropolitan area. There are two options:

  • University Hall (catered)
  • Deirdre Jordan Village (self-catered).

For off-campus accommodation, Flinders Housing run a free, up-to-date accommodation service which lists private accommodation available on the rental market.


Empire Times was published by the Students' Association of Flinders University (SAFU) from 1969 to 2006. The founder and first editor of the newspaper was Martin Fabinyi, and the newspaper was originally printed in the back of his house by fellow student Rod Boswell. Empire Times had a history of controversial humour and anti-establishment discussion. Notable former editors and contributors included Martin Armiger and Greig (HG Nelson) Pickhaver, Steph Key and Kate Ellis. Empire Times ceased publication in 2006 as a result of voluntary student unionism, but resumed in 2013.[48]


Flinders University has many sports teams that compete in social and competitive competitions.

Flinders University currently have 22 affiliated sporting clubs, these clubs range from social-based to highly competitive sporting clubs, including: Aikido, Athletics, Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Cricket, CrossFit, Football, Hockey, Kendo, Korfball, Lacrosse, Men's Soccer, Muay Thai, Netball, Quidditch Squash, Ultimate Frisbee, Underwater, Volleyball, Wing Chun and Women's Soccer.

Additionally, Flinders University students have the capacity to go away to annual university games events and compete in a range of sports while representing the university.

Notable people[edit]

Entertainment and the arts[edit]



  • Nazira Abdula, pediatrician and Mozambican Minister of Health
  • Jamie Cooper - professor of intensive care medicine
  • Richard "Harry" Harris - anaesthetist and 2019 Australian of the Year
  • Graeme Young - gastroenterologist, developer of the national bowel cancer screening programme
  • Sally Goold - First Indigenous nurse in New South Wales and 2006 Senior Nurse of the Year
  • Marcello Costa AO - neuroscientist,understanding of gut neuronal structure and function.


Science and mathematics[edit]



To date, Flinders has produced one Australian of the Year[53] in Richard Harris, one Fields Medalist[54] in Terry Tao, five Rhodes scholars.[55] and 26 Fulbright scholars.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Innovative Research Universities Archived 8 June 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Ross Williams; Nina Van Dyke (November 2006). "Rating Major Disciplines in Australian Universities: Perceptions and Reality" (PDF). Melbourne Institute, University of Melbourne. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 June 2008. Retrieved 12 September 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Flinders University". Times Higher Education (THE). Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e http://www.flinders.edu.au:80/about/our-university/our-history/1958---1965-from-the-ground-up.cfm Flinders University – 1958–1965: From the ground up
  5. ^ a b c http://www.flinders.edu.au:80/about/our-university/our-history/1966---1971-the-first-students.cfm Flinders University – 1966–1971: The first students
  6. ^ "Electrical and Electronic Engineering". Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  7. ^ "Biomedical Engineering". Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  8. ^ "Opportunities for Northern Territory applicants". www.flinders.edu.au.
  9. ^ "Disciplines within the School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics". www.flinders.edu.au.
  10. ^ "Mechanical Engineering". Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  11. ^ Parte, A.C. "Flindersiella". LPSN. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Flinders Future Focus". Flinders Future Focus. Archived from the original on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  13. ^ "Computer Science, Engineering & Mathematics". flinders.edu.au.
  14. ^ "Medical Device Research Institute (MDRI) – Flinders University". www.flinders.edu.au.
  15. ^ "Institute for Nanoscale Science & Technology". www.flinders.edu.au.
  16. ^ Macfarlane, Ian. "Flinders' Tonsley campus links students, research and business". Ministers for the Department of Industry and Science. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  17. ^ "50th Anniversary – Flinders University". Flinders University. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  18. ^ Winkler, Tim; Hedley, Katea (2016). The Investigator transformed : 50 Years of Flinders University. Flinders University. ISBN 9780646950808.
  19. ^ "The Investigator Transformed – Flinders University". Flinders University. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  20. ^ "The Plaza and Student Hub".
  21. ^ "Flinders edges closer to restructure". 24 November 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  22. ^ "Flinders' ambitious decade of making a difference". 18 May 2016.
  23. ^ "Flinders announces $100m research investment". 7 March 2019.
  24. ^ "Flinders Village to transform education, health in southern Adelaide". 2 June 2019.
  25. ^ Flinders railway station
  26. ^ "Flinders Health and Medical Research".
  27. ^ Richards, Stephanie (3 June 2022). "Uni staff divided over latest merger push". InDaily. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  28. ^ Location and getting to Flinders, http://www.flinders.edu.au
  29. ^ Flinders in the City Archived 11 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ "Flinders at Tonsley – Flinders University". Flinders University.
  31. ^ "Student and staff numbers".
  32. ^ "College of Business, Government and Law – Flinders University". Flinders University.
  33. ^ "College of Education, Psychology and Social Work – Flinders University". Flinders University.
  34. ^ "College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences – Flinders University". Flinders University.
  35. ^ "College of Medicine and Public Health – Flinders University". Flinders University.
  36. ^ "College of Nursing and Health Sciences – Flinders University". Flinders University.
  37. ^ "College of Science and Engineering – Flinders University". Flinders University.
  38. ^ "Flinders University". www.flinders.edu.au. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  39. ^ About_ACD Archived 30 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine accessed 7 June 2011
  40. ^ a b "QS World University Rankings 2022". Quacquarelli Symonds Limited.
  41. ^ "World University Rankings 2021". Times Higher Education.
  42. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2021". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.
  43. ^ "U.S. News and World Report Best Global Universities Rankings". U.S. News and World Report.
  44. ^ "THE 2021 - Australia". Times Higher Education.
  45. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2021". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.
  46. ^ "U.S. News and World Report Best Global Universities in Australia". U.S. News and World Report.
  47. ^ "Australian University Rankings". Australian Education Network.
  48. ^ Austlit. "Student Newspapers | AustLit: Discover Australian Stories". www.austlit.edu.au. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  49. ^ "Bachelor of Creative Arts (Drama)". Flinders University. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  50. ^ "Louisa Mignone loves playing the man - The Advertiser".
  51. ^ "Danger 5 Season 2 Dario Russo - The Guardian".
  52. ^ "Tu'ivakano became Prime Minister Designate". Matangi Tonga. 21 December 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  53. ^ "Recipients - Australian of the Year".
  54. ^ "Fields Medal | International Mathematical Union (IMU)".
  55. ^ "Rhodes scholars – Flinders University". Flinders University. Retrieved 17 October 2017.

External links[edit]