University of New South Wales

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Not to be confused with University of South Wales.
The University of New South Wales
UNSW coat of arms.png
Coat of Arms of UNSW
Former names
New South Wales University of Technology (1949–1958)
Motto Scientia Manu et Mente (Latin)
Motto in English
"Knowledge by Hand and Mind"
Established 1949
Type Public
Endowment A$1.095 billion[1]
Chancellor Mr David Gonski, AC
President Professor Ian Jacobs
Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs
Administrative staff
Students 50,838[3]
Location Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
33°55′4″S 151°13′52″E / 33.91778°S 151.23111°E / -33.91778; 151.23111 (Kensington) 33°53′02″S 151°13′13″E / 33.88394°S 151.22032°E / -33.88394; 151.22032 (Paddington)
Campus Urban, parks, 38 hectares (0.38 km2)
Affiliations Group of Eight, Universitas 21, APRU, ADFA, Association of Commonwealth Universities
UNSW logo.png

The University of New South Wales (UNSW; branded as UNSW Australia[4]) is an Australian public research university located in the suburb of Kensington in Sydney. The university was established in 1949 by the New South Wales government. The main campus is located on a 38-hectare site in the Sydney suburb of Kensington, seven kilometres from the centre of Sydney. The creative arts faculty, UNSW Art & Design, is located in Paddington, UNSW Canberra is located at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra, and sub-campuses are located in the Sydney CBD, the suburbs of Randwick and Coogee, research stations are located throughout the state of New South Wales.[5]

UNSW is a founding member of the Group of Eight, a coalition of Australian research-intensive universities, and of Universitas 21, a leading global network of research universities. It has international exchange and research partnerships with over 200 universities around the world. It was ranked among the top 50 universities in the world, according to the 2015 QS World University Rankings, and among the top 4 in Australia. UNSW graduates hold more chief executive positions of ASX 200 listed companies than those of any other university in Australia.[6]


University council's first meeting in 1949

The idea of founding the University originated from the crisis demands of World War II, during which the nation's attention was drawn to the critical role that science and technology played in transforming an agricultural society into a modern and industrial one.[7] The post-war Labor government of New South Wales recognised the increasing need to have a university specialised in training high-quality engineers and technology-related professionals in numbers beyond that of the capacity and characteristics of the existing University of Sydney.[7] This led to the proposal to establish the Institute of Technology, submitted by the then New South Wales Minister for Education Bob Heffron, accepted on 9 July 1946.

The university, originally named the "New South Wales University of Technology", gained its statutory status through the enactment of New South Wales University of Technology Act 1949 (NSW) by Parliament of New South Wales in Sydney in 1949. In March 1948, classes commenced with a first intake of 46 students pursuing programs including civil engineering, mechanical engineering, mining engineering and electrical engineering.[8] At that time the thesis programmes were innovative. Each course embodied a specified and substantial period of practical training in the relevant industry. It was also unprecedented for tertiary institutions at that time to include compulsory instruction in humanities.[9]

Initially, the university operated from the inner Sydney Technical College city campus at Ultimo. However, in 1951, the Parliament of New South Wales passed the New South Wales University of Technology (Construction) Act 1951 (NSW) to provide funding and allow buildings to be erected at the Kensington site where the university is now located.

University of New South Wales[edit]

In 1958, the university's name was changed to the "University of New South Wales" to reflect its transformation from a technology-based institution to a generalist university. In 1960, it established Faculties of Arts and Medicine, and shortly after decided to add a Faculty of Law, which came into being in 1971.[10]

The university's first director was Arthur Denning (1949–1952), who made important contributions to founding the university. In 1953, he was replaced by Professor Philip Baxter, who continued as vice-chancellor when this position's title was changed in 1955.[11] Baxter's dynamic, if authoritarian, management was central to the University's first twenty years. His visionary, but at times controversial, energies saw the university grow from a handful to 15,000 students by 1968.[12] He also pioneered new scientific and technological disciplines despite the criticism of traditionalists.[citation needed] Staff recruited both locally and overseas, soon established a wide international reputation.[citation needed] The new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rupert Myers (1969–1981), brought consolidation and an urbane management style to a period of expanding student numbers, demand for change in University style, and challenges of student unrest.

The stabilising techniques of the 1980s managed by Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Birt (1981–1992)[13] provided a firm base for the energetic corporatism and campus enhancements pursued by the subsequent Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Niland (1992–2002). The 1990s saw the addition of Fine Arts to the University. The University established Colleges in Newcastle (1951) and Wollongong (1961), which eventually became the University of Newcastle and the University of Wollongong in 1965 and 1975 respectively.

At present, private sources contribute 45% of its annual funding.[14]

The University is home to the Lowy Cancer Research Centre, one of Australia's largest cancer research facilities. The centre, costing $127 million, is Australia's first facility to bring together researchers in childhood and adult cancer.[15][16]

In 2003, the University was invited by Singapore's Economic Development Board to consider opening a campus there. Following a 2004 decision to proceed, the first phase of a planned $200 m campus opened in 2007. Students and staff were sent home and the campus closed after one semester following substantial financial losses.[17]


The Grant of Arms was made by the College of Arms on 3 March 1952. The grant reads:

Argent on a Cross Gules a Lion passant guardant between four Mullets of eight points Or a Chief Sable charged with an open Book proper thereon the word "SCIENTIA" in letters also sable.[18]
The Flag of UNSW

The lion and the four stars of the Southern Cross on the St George's Cross have reference to the State of New South Wales which established the University; the open book with "SCIENTIA" (knowledge) across its pages is a reminder of its purpose. The placement of "Scientia" on the book was inspired by its appearance on the arms of the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, formed in 1907. Beneath the shield is the motto "Manu et Mente" (with hand and mind), which was the motto of the Sydney Technical College, from which the University developed.[18]

An update of the design and colours of the Arms was undertaken in 1970, which provided a more contemporary design, yet retained all the Arms' heraldic associations. In 1994 the University title was added to the UNSW arms, as was the abbreviation "UNSW", to create the UNSW Symbol, which is used for everyday and marketing purposes.[18]

There is also a university flag, which consists of the coat of arms centred on a mid blue field. The blue field of the flag is lined with a yellow band on all sides. There is a further outer band of black on all sides which is equal in width to the yellow band.[19]

The Ceremonial mace of the university is made of stainless steel with silver facings and a shaft of eumung timber. On the head are mounted four silver shields, two engraved with the arms of the State of New South Wales and two with the original-design arms of the University. A silver Waratah, NSW's floral emblem, surmounts the head. The mace was donated to the university by Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and was presented by the company chairman Colin Syme on 6 December 1962.[20] Former NSW Government Architect Dr. Cobden Parkes was appointed as the first official Mace-bearer.[21]

Entry and World Rankings[edit]

Selection and entry[edit]

The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) is the primary criterion for entry into most undergraduate-entry university programs. ATAR is a percentile awarded to students based upon the student's performance in their Higher School Certificate (HSC). The number functions as a rank of all students entering the tertiary education system, based on the number of students in year 12. The maximum rank attainable is 99.95.

In 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, UNSW admitted more of the top 500 NSW HSC performers than any other university. This consequently makes UNSW and the University of Sydney two of the most selective universities in Australia for undergraduate admission.

The table below summarises the ATAR scores needed to secure entry into the course. UMAT is the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test. A (V) indicates that vacancies were available at the conclusion of the main round of offers to students.[22]

Undergraduate Entry Cut-Off
ANU Melbourne Monash UNSW Sydney
Combined Law 97.00 (V) Not Offered 98.00 99.70 99.50
Medicine Not Offered Not Offered 97+ (+UMAT) 99+ (+UMAT) 99.95
Commerce 82.00 (V) 93.00 90.30 96.30 95.00
Economics 86.00 (V) 93.00 90.30 93.00 91.55
Engineering 95.00 (V) Not Offered 91.4 91.25 92.00
Science 90.00 (V) 85.00 82.00 83.05 83.00
Arts 85.00 (V) 85.00 85.05 81.00 81.10

The university offers a bonus points scheme, "HSC Plus",[23] which awards points for performance in Australian Senior Secondary Certificate [Year 12] courses relevant to UNSW undergraduate degrees.

The UNSW Co-op Program[24] is offered across many Programs in the Faculties of the Built Environment, Engineering, Science, and the Australian School of Business. The Co-op program offers industry funded scholarships to students and includes internships with the sponsoring companies. Students usually enter the program after an application and interview while in their final year of high school.

University rankings[edit]

University rankings
University of New South Wales
QS World[25] 46
THE-WUR World[26] 82
ARWU World[27] 101-150
USNWR World[28] 94
CWTS Leiden World[29] 197
Australian rankings
THE-WUR National[30] 5
USNWR National[31] 4
CWTS Leiden National[29] 7

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015–2016 placed UNSW 82th in the world and 5th in Australia. Previously in 2012-2013, UNSW was placed 85th in the world and 5th in Australia.[32]

Times Higher Education World University Rankings[32]
Category/Year 2015 2014 2013 2012
Overall 82 114 85 173
Social Sciences 40 33 43
Clinical, Pre-Clinical and Health 51 43 -
Physical Sciences - - -
Life Sciences - - -
Engineering & Technology 68 - -
Arts & Humanities 85 - -

The QS World University Rankings 2015 placed UNSW 46th in the world and equal 4th in Australia.[33] It was also awarded the QS 5 Star Plus badge for excellence, having received a five-star rating in all eight categories scoring over 900 points.

QS World University Rankings[33]
Category/Year 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
Overall 46 48 52 52 39 39 36
Social Sciences & Management 21 20 23 24 25 23 25
Natural Sciences 61 104 =47 52 45 43 35
Life Sciences & Medicine 43 47 =72 55 48 46 43
Engineering & Technology 21 27 =33 39 39 42 33
Arts & Humanities 41 51 59 77 61 78 52

The 2015 QS World University Rankings ranked UNSW to be 12th in the world for Accounting and Finance, 15th for Law, and 21st for Social Sciences and Management.

The Shanghai Jiaotong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities 2013 rankings placed UNSW in the 101–150 bracket globally and equal 6th in Australia.[34]

The Good Universities Guide 2014 scored UNSW 5-star ratings across 10 categories, more than any other Australian university. Monash University ranked second with seven 5-stars, followed by ANU, Melbourne University and the University of Western Australia with six each.[35]

UNSW has produced more millionaires than any other Australian university and ranked 33rd in the world according to the Spear's Wealth Management Survey [36]

UNSW graduates hold more chief executive positions of S&P/ASX 200 listed companies than those of any other university in Australia,[6]

Engineers Australia ranked UNSW as having the highest number of graduates in "Australia's Top 100 Influential Engineers 2013" list at 23%, followed by Monash University at 8%, the University of Western Australia, Sydney University and The University of Queensland at 7%.[37]

UNSW reported the highest median ATAR for the incoming 2012 and 2013 cohort and the 2nd highest average ATAR cutoff, as well as the highest number of Top 500 HSC Students.[38][39]

Australian Government survey data of university graduates have indicated in the past that students who enter the Group of Eight come from higher income families, and that graduates largely have higher paid occupations or positions of influence.[40]

Study abroad[edit]

UNSW has maintained an extensive partnership with universities abroad. UNSW sends approximately 400 students to partner institutions each semester. Some of the universities that UNSW students are able to attend are: Princeton University, McGill University, University of Pennsylvania (inc. Wharton), Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Brown University, Columbia University (summer law students only), University of California Berkeley, University of California Santa Cruz (inc. Baskin), UCLA, University of Michigan (inc. Ross), New York University (inc. Stern), Cornell University, University of Texas at Austin (inc. McCombs), University College Maastricht, University College London (law students only), Imperial College London, London School of Economics and ETH Zurich.[citation needed]


Aerial view of the ADFAcampus, Canberra

The University is governed by Council of 15 members including parliamentary and ex-officio members, members elected by staff, students and graduates of the University, and members appointed by the Minister for Education or by Council itself. It is responsible for acting on the University's behalf to promote its objectives and interests. The governance of universities has come under increasing scrutiny nationally in recent years [example?], and UNSW and its Council are committed to meeting this scrutiny by demonstrating the highest standards [evidence?].

The principal academic body is the Academic Board which receives advice on academic matters from the Faculties, College (Australian Defence Force Academy), and the Boards of Studies. It is responsible for academic policy setting, academic strategy via its eight standing committees, approval and delivery of programs, and academic standards. The Board comprises 56 members, including the Vice-Chancellor, members of the Executive Team, Deans and Faculty Presiding Members, 24 members elected from the academic staff and four from the student body. Membership also includes 'such other persons' approved by Council. The Academic Board advises the Vice-Chancellor and Council on matters relating to teaching, scholarship and research and takes decisions on delegation from Council. Its purpose is to make academic policy; approve courses and programs; further and co-ordinate the work of the Faculties and other academic units; and support teaching, scholarship and research.

The chief executive officer of the University is the Vice-Chancellor and President. The Deputy Vice-Chancellors and Pro-Vice-Chancellors are responsible for academic operations, research policy, research management, quality assurance and external relations including sponsorship. The Chancellor is usually an eminent member of society. (See UNSW Chancellors and UNSW Vice-Chancellors).

The Faculties and boards are responsible for the teaching and examining of subjects within their scope and the Academic Board co-ordinates and furthers their work.


UNSW Business School

The University has nine faculties:


The University has an association with the National Institute of Dramatic Art.


Main Walkway, Lower campus
Library Lawn, upper campus
Quadrangle Building
Analytical Centre
University Library Building

The main UNSW campus is situated in Kensington, Sydney. Two of the University's faculties are situated elsewhere. The College of Fine Arts, is located in the inner suburb of Paddington. UNSW Canberra at ADFA is situated in Canberra.

The University also has additional campuses and field stations at Randwick, Coogee, Botany, Dee Why, Cowan, Manly Vale, Fowlers Gap and Bankstown Airport.

The main UNSW campus is divided geographically into two areas: upper campus and lower campus. The site of the lower campus was vested in the university in two lots in December 1952 and June 1954, while the upper campus was vested in the university in November 1959.[41] These two are separated mainly by an elevation rise between the quadrangle and the Scientia building. It takes roughly fifteen minutes to walk from one extreme to the other.


The University has a number of residential colleges, including: Philip Baxter College, Basser College, Goldstein College, Fig Tree Hall, Colombo House, UNSW Hall, New College, Warrane College, International House, Shalom College and Creston College.

In 2014, a staged re-development of UNSW's on-campus accommodation portfolio will conclude. The re-development has included a complete rebuild of two of the three existing Kengsington Colleges; Basser and Goldstein, as well as the addition of the three brand new colleges; Fig Tree Hall, Colombo House and UNSW Hall. The development has also included a re-refurbishment of the historic Goldstein Dining Hall and the construction of the University Terraces, a new on-campus apartment complex which opened in 2013.


There are a number of theatre and music venues at the University, many of which are available for hire to the general public.

Main article: UNSW Venues


  • UNSW Lowy Cancer Research Centre is a facility at The University of New South Wales. It is Australia's first facility bringing together researchers in childhood and adult cancers, and one of the country's largest cancer research facilities, housing up to 400 researchers.
  • The Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre is a high-grade centre for the Faculties of Science, Medicine and Engineering. It is used to study the structure and composition of biological, chemical and physical materials.
  • The UNSW Fitness and Aquatic Centre provides health and fitness facilities and services to both students and the general public.[42][43]
  • The L5 Building houses NICTA, the UNSW Foundation Studies Program, and the UNSW Institute of Languages.

The University also has a website and Facebook page, which in 2015 displayed very inappropriate pictures.[44]

Student projects[edit]

Students of the University are involved in a number of projects, including:

  • Sunswift Solar Racing Team, who hold the FIA world record for the fastest electric car over a 500 kilometres (310 mi) distance[45] and in 2015 are creating Australia's first road legal Solar car to adhere to Australian Design Rules.
  • rUNSWift,[46] the University's team in the international RoboCup Standard Platform League competition, is the most successful team in the world with wins in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2014 as well as coming second in 1999, 2002, 2006 and 2010.
  • BLUEsat Satellite (Development in Progress)
  • UNSW Redback Racing[47] UNSW's entrant into the SAE-Australasia Formula SAE-A Competition (National winners in 2000)
  • The MAVSTAR[48] (Micro Aerial Vehicles for Search, Tracking And Reconnaissance) project to develop a team of cooperative micro aerial and unmanned ground vehicles.
  • The Developing Country Project[49] Second year thesis students doing Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering are able to get involved. The project aims to assist villagers in developing countries to gain access to electricity to satisfy their energy needs in a clean and sustainable manner.
  • iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) a worldwide synthetic biology competition. BABS UNSW entered their first team in 2015.

Student organisations[edit]

Main walk on a rainy O-week day

In 2007, the three previous student organisations, the UNSW Student Guild, UNSW Union and COFA Students' Association were wound up and reformed as a new student organisation known as the Arc @ UNSW.[50] This new student organisation is a major service provider on campus, running a number of retail outlets, student media such as Tharunka and the entertainment venue, the Roundhouse. The Arc Student Representative Council represents students to the university and nationally and fights for their rights. Arc also provides support and funding to university clubs and societies and runs student volunteer programs such as Orientation Week.

In 2007, the University of New South Wales Sports Association[51] and UNSW Lifestyle Centre merged to become UNSW Sport and Recreation. It runs the UNSW Fitness and Aquatic Centre, provides health and fitness facilities and services and supports the thirty UNSW affiliated sporting clubs that compete both at home and abroad.

High school and primary school competitions and resources[edit]

UNSW engages with primary and secondary education, administering several national and international academic competitions for school age children. These include, among others:

  • The Australian Schools Science Competition

International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS) is conducted by Educational Assessment Australia, UNSW Global Pty Limited. UNSW Global is a not-for-profit provider of education, training and consulting services and a wholly owned enterprise of the University of New South Wales. It provides exams for students in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia[1], South Africa, Indonesia, Hong Kong, India and the Pacific region. It caters to students from year 3 (Australia) through year 12, examining skills in English, mathematics, science, computers, writing and spelling.

  • International Competitions and Assessments for Schools-Mathematics

International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS). From 2003-05, ICAS-Mathematics was called Australasian Schools Mathematics Assessment. Prior to 2003, it was known as the Primary Schools Mathematics Competition and was targeted at primary schools.

  • The UNSW COMPUTING ProgComp[52]

Since 1997, The School of Computer Science and Engineering (UNSW COMPUTING) as run the UNSW COMPUTING ProgComp. This competition has the overall aim of raising awareness amongst high school students of the craft of programming and to encourage students to develop and apply their computing knowledge and skills.

  • The UNSW COMPUTING John Lions Award for Contribution to Open Software[53]

Established in 2011, the John Lions Award for Contribution to Open Software is open to high school and undergraduate university students enrolled in an Australian secondary or tertiary institution. Full-time and part-time students are eligible, as well as local and internationals students. The annual prize is valued at $1,000.

  • The UNSW COMPUTING Robotics Workshops[54]

UNSW School of Computer Science and Engineering (UNSW COMPUTING) has developed specialised robotic workshops for school students. They focus on the use of the Lego NXT technology combined with the popular RoboCup Junior competition for schools. UNSW COMPUTING is also a National and NSW State sponsor of RoboCup Junior.

Notable people[edit]




UNSW Canberra is a campus of the University of New South Wales and is located at the Australian Defence Force Academy. Since 1967 the university has been providing tertiary education to officers in the Australian Defence Force through the Royal Military College, Duntroon. In 1986 the Australian Defence Force Academy, a tri-service military training institution was established. The academy is run jointly between the Commandant, who represents the Australian Defence Force side, and the Rector, who represents the University of New South Wales.

Past Deans[edit]

Dean Term
Professor E.R. Bryan[55] (Acting Dean) 1967
Professor Sir Leslie H. Martin[55] 1967–1970
Professor B.D. Beddie[55] 1971–1972
Professor J.C. Burns[55] 1973–1978
Professor T.G. Chapman[55] (Acting Dean) 1975, 1978, 1980
Professor Geoff Wilson[55] 1978–1986

Past and present Rectors[edit]

Rector Term
Professor Geoff Wilson 1984–1991
Professor Harry Heseltine AO[56] 1991–1996
Professor John Richards FTSE 1996–1998
Emeritus Professor Peter Hall[57] (Acting Rector) 1998–1999
Professor Robert King 1999–2004
Professor David Lovell (Acting Rector) 2004
Professor John Baird[58] 2004–2010
Professor Michael Frater (2011–Current)

Past and present Deputy Rectors[edit]

Deputy Rector Term
Professor Alan Gilbert 1986–1987
Professor Harry Heseltine AO[56] 1988–1990
Professor John Richards 1991–1995
Professor Ian Young 1996–1997
No Deputy Rector 1998–1999
Professor Charles Newton (Deputy Rector Education) 2000–2001
Associate Professor Susan Lever (Deputy Rector Research) 2000–2002
Professor Colin Pask 2003
Professor John Arnold 2006–Current

Notable Previous Professors[edit]

Name Former UNSW Canberra Position Term Latter Position Term
Professor Bruce Thom AM FIAG FTSE[59] Professor of Geography - Royal Military College, Duntroon 1977–1984 Vice-Chancellor - University of New England 1994–1996
Professor Ian Young[60] AO Professor of Engineering - UNSW Canberra 1994–1996 Vice-Chancellor and President - Australian National University 2011–Current


See full list at List of University of New South Wales alumni


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Further reading[edit]

  • Willis, A.H. (1983). The University of New South Wales: The Baxter Years. ISBN 0-86840-057-2. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°55′01″S 151°13′57″E / 33.916921°S 151.232514°E / -33.916921; 151.232514