A University Medal is one of several different types of awards, bestowed by universities upon outstanding students or members of staff. The usage and status of university medals differ between countries.
As award on graduation
Many universities award University Medals to the top undergraduate students upon graduation each year.
In Australia, the University Medal is usually awarded upon completion of Honours degrees based on academic merit. The criteria for bestowing the University Medal are stringent. The number of medals awarded might also be limited. For example, the University of New South Wales' medal policy states: "it is expected that only in exceptional circumstances would there be more than one Medal for a particular specialisation". The usual criterion is very high marks across all the subjects undertaken in the 4-year Honours degree. In some universities, the University Medal is treated as a distinct division or class of the Honours degree ("First class Honours and University Medal").
It is rare, but possible, for a student to receive two University Medals, by winning a Medal in each of two undergraduate degrees or majors within a degree. H. V. Evatt, Australian politician and judge, for example, won University Medals in Philosophy and Law from the University of Sydney. As another example, Brian Anderson (academic), the former President of the Australian Academy of Science and the International Federation of Automatic Control, won University Medals in Engineering and Mathematics from the University of Sydney.
In Sri Lanka, Universities award medals, usually named in honor of a senior faculty member at annual convocations for those who have achieved academic merit.
The University Medal is often awarded to the most distinguished undergraduate student upon graduation. In addition to stringent academic criteria, students are also judged on extracurricular activities, publications, and other qualities.
As award for service
In some universities, the University Medal is bestowed upon members of the university for their extraordinary contribution to the University. Such an award is often conferred upon retirement of a staff member.
Notable University Medal winners
- University of Sydney
- Edmund Barton - Australian prime minister and judge; University of Sydney; Classics.
- Sir Garfield Barwick - Australian judge; University of Sydney; Law.
- H.V. Evatt - Australian politician and judge; University of Sydney; Philosophy and Law.
- Simon Evans - Lawyer; University of Sydney; Science and Law.
- Emeritus Professor Hans Charles Freeman AM FAA - bio-inorganic chemist and protein crystallographer; University of Sydney; Chemistry.
- Joshua Gans - Economist;
- Sir John Kerr - judge and governor-general; University of Sydney; Law.
- State University of New York at Stony Brook
- Indiana University Bloomington
- Elinor Ostrom - Economist; Indiana University; Economics.
- Vincent Ostrom - Economist; Indiana University; Economics.
- John Quiggin - Economist; Australian National University; Economics.
- University of Queensland
- Guidelines for the Award of UTS Medals. University of Technology, Sydney. Accessed 2007-05-02.
- Award of University Medals policy. University of New South Wales. Accessed 2007-05-02.
- University Medal. University of California, Berkeley. Accessed 2007-05-02
- The University Medal. Duke University. Accessed 2007-05-02.
- The Medals:Awards and Honours. Indiana University. Accessed 2007-05-02.