University of New South Wales

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The University of New South Wales
UNSW coat of arms.png
Former names
New South Wales University of Technology (1949–1958)
MottoScientia Manu et Mente (Latin)
Motto in English
"Knowledge by Hand and Mind"
ChancellorDavid Gonski AC
PresidentIan Jacobs
Vice-ChancellorIan Jacobs
Administrative staff
6,117[1] (2014)
Students53,481[1] (2015)
Undergraduates32,501[1] (2014)
Postgraduates20,980[1] (2014)
Location, ,
CampusUrban, parks, 38 hectares (94 acres)
Colours[citation needed]
UNSW logo.png

The University of New South Wales (UNSW; branded as UNSW Sydney[2]) is an Australian public research university located in the Sydney suburb of Kensington. Established in 1949, it is ranked 4th in Australia, 45th in the world, and 2nd in New South Wales according to the 2018 QS World University Rankings.[3]

The university comprises nine faculties, through which it offers bachelor, master and doctoral degrees. The main campus is located on a 38-hectare (94-acre) site in the Sydney suburb of Kensington, 7 km (about 4.3 miles) from the Sydney central business district. 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.[4]

UNSW is one of the founding members of the Group of Eight, a coalition of Australian research-intensive universities, and of Universitas 21, a global network of research universities. It has international exchange and research partnerships with over 200 universities around the world.



University council's first meeting in 1949

The origins of the university can be traced to the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts established in 1833 and the Sydney Technical College established in 1878.[5] These institutions were established to meet the growing demand for capabilities in new technologies as the New South Wales economy shifted from its pastoral base to industries fueled by the industrial age.[5]

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.[6] 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.[6] 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 the New South Wales University of Technology Act 1949 (NSW) by the Parliament of New South Wales in Sydney in 1949.

Early years[edit]

In March 1948, classes commenced with a first intake of 46 students pursuing programs including civil engineering, mechanical engineering, mining engineering and electrical engineering.[7] At that time the thesis programs 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.[8]

Initially, the university operated from the inner Sydney Technical College city campus in Ultimo as a separate institution from the College. 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.


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 the Faculty of Law, which came into being in 1971.[9]

The university's first director was Arthur Denning (1949–1952), who made important contributions to founding the university. In 1953, he was replaced by Philip Baxter, who continued as vice-chancellor when this position's title was changed in 1955.[10] Baxter's dynamic, if authoritarian, management was central to the university's first 20 years. His visionary, but at times controversial, energies saw the university grow from a handful to 15,000 students by 1968.[11] The new vice-chancellor, 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 the vice-chancellor, Michael Birt (1981–1992),[12] provided a firm base for the energetic corporatism and campus enhancements pursued by the subsequent vice-chancellor, 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.

Recent history[edit]

In 2012 private sources contributed 45% of the University's annual funding.[13]

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.[14][15]

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.[16]

In 2019, the university will move to a trimester timetable as part of UNSW's 2025 Strategy.


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.[17]

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]

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's chairman, Colin Syme, on 6 December 1962.[19] A former NSW Government Architect, Cobden Parkes, was appointed as the first official mace-bearer.[20]


Quadrangle Building

The main UNSW campus, where most faculties are situated, is in Kensington, Sydney. UNSW Art & Design is located in the inner suburb of Paddington, and UNSW Canberra at ADFA is situated in Canberra.

The main UNSW campus is divided geographically into two areas: upper campus and lower campus. The lower campus area was vested in the university in two lots in December 1952 and June 1954. The upper campus area was vested in the university in November 1959.[21] 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.

UNSW also has Ucroo's Digital Campus which seamlessly and intelligently connects the university body.

The university also has additional campuses and field stations in Randwick, Coogee, Botany, Dee Why, Cowan, Manly Vale, Fowlers Gap, Albury, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and at Bankstown Airport.

Library Lawn, upper campus

The university has a number of purpose-built research facilities, including:

  • UNSW Lowy Cancer Research Centre is a facility at the university. It is Australia's first facility bringing together researchers in childhood and adult cancers as well as one of the country's largest cancer research facilities, housing up to 400 researchers.
  • The Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre is a centre for the faculties of science, medicine and engineering. It is used to study the structure and composition of biological, chemical and physical materials.

There are a number of theatre and music venues at the university, many of which are available for hire to the general public. The UNSW Fitness and Aquatic Centre provides health and fitness facilities and services to both students and the general public.[22][23]


Main Walkway, Lower campus

The university is governed by the University Council which is responsible for acting on the university's behalf to promote its objectives and interests.[24] The Council comprises 15 members including the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, President of the Academic Board, two members appointed by the Minister for Education, five members appointed by the Council, three members elected by university staff, and two student elected members.[25]

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.[26] It is responsible for academic policy setting, academic strategy via its eight standing committees, approval and delivery of programs, and academic standards.[26] The Board comprises 59 members, including the Vice-Chancellor, members of the executive team, deans and faculty presiding members, members elected from the academic staff, and six from the student body.[27] The Board advises the Vice-Chancellor and council on matters relating to teaching, scholarship and research and takes decisions on delegation from the Council.

The chief executive officer of the university is the President and Vice-Chancellor,[28] currently Professor Ian Jacobs. The deputy vice-chancellors and pro-vice-chancellors form part of an executive team which are responsible for academic operations, research policy, research management, quality assurance and external relations including philanthropy and advancement.[26][29]

Each of the faculties has their respective boards are responsible for the teaching and examining of subjects within their scope.[30]

Academic profile[edit]


UNSW Business School

The university has nine faculties:

UNSW Built Environment

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

University rankings[edit]

University rankings
University of New South Wales
QS World[31]45
THE-WUR World[32]85
ARWU World[33]101-150
USNWR World[34]69
CWTS Leiden World[35]68 (all sciences)
Australian rankings
QS National[31]3
THE-WUR National[36]6
ARWU National[37]7-8
USNWR National[38]5
CWTS Leiden National[35]10
ERA National[40]4[39]

In the 2018 QS World University Rankings UNSW was ranked globally as 45th overall (3rd in Australia and 2nd in New South Wales),[41] joint 10th in the world for Accounting and Finance (1st in Australia),[42] 16th for law (4th in Australia),[43] and 11th in civil and structural engineering (1st in Australia).[44]

In the 2018 Academic Ranking of World Universities, UNSW was ranked in the 101-150th bracket and 7-8th in Australia.[45] UNSW has more subjects ranked in the ShanghaiRanking's Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2018 than any other Australian university with 38 in the top 100, 24 in the top 50 and 3 in the top 10 in the world.[46]It has nine subjects ranked first in Australia: Finance (16th in the world), Water Resources (5th in the world), Management (50th in the world), Mechanical Engineering (45th in the world), Remote Sensing (16th in the world), Library and information science (26th in the world), Civil Engineering (10th in the world), and Instrument Science and technology (42nd in the world) etc.[47]

The Australian Good Universities Guide 2014 scored UNSW 5-star ratings across 10 categories, more than any other Australian university. Monash University ranked second with seven five stars, followed by ANU, Melbourne University and the University of Western Australia with six each.[48]

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2017 placed UNSW 78th in the world.[49]

UNSW has produced more millionaires than any other Australian university, according to the Spear's Wealth Management Survey.[50]

Engineers Australia ranked University of New South Wales 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, University of Sydney and the University of Queensland at 7%.[51]

Selection and entry[edit]

Entry to a particular undergraduate degree program generally requires a certain Australian Tertiary Admission Rank, which varies by course. Some programs also take into account, in addition to a particular ATAR mark, performance in specialised tests, such as the UMAT for medicine and the Law Admission Test for law.

In 2016, UNSW was the number one university preference for high school students in the State of New South Wales.[52]

The university offers a bonus points scheme, "HSC Plus", which awards up to a maximum of 5 points for performance in year 12 Australian Senior Secondary Certificate courses relevant to UNSW undergraduate degrees.[53] The scheme does not apply to actuarial studies, law, medicine, or psychology.[53]

UNSW offers several scholarships and support programs to high achieving students. The Co-op program is a scholarship and industry engagement program awarded to students across many programs in the built environment, engineering, science and the Australian School of Business.[54] Students usually enter the program after an application and interview while in their final year of high school. The university also offers Scientia Scholarships to a number of commencing students who performed exceptionally in the Higher School Certificate, which provide funding of $10,000 per year for the duration of the student's program.[55]

Student life[edit]


The university has a number of residential accommodation options, including Philip Baxter College, Basser College, Goldstein College, Fig Tree Hall, Colombo House, UNSW Hall, New College and New College Village, Warrane College; International House; Shalom College, and Creston College.

Study abroad[edit]

A number of students go on exchange to study overseas at partner institutions each semester. Some of these universities 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), University of Virginia, Mississippi State University, Cornell University, University of Connecticut, University of Texas at Austin (inc. McCombs), Maastricht University, University of Padua, University College London (law students only), University of Nottingham, Imperial College London, London School of Economics and ETH Zurich.[56]

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[57] and in 2015 are creating Australia's first road legal solar car to adhere to Australian Design Rules.
  • rUNSWift,[58] the university's team in the international RoboCup Standard Platform League competition, is the most successful[citation needed] 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)
  • Impact Engineers[59] are a group of cross disciplinary humanitarian engineers aspiring to make a difference to the world’s developing communities. Impact Engineers currently focus their efforts in rural Sri Lanka however over the next three to five years, they will expand to launch projects across multiple developing countries
  • UNSW Redback Racing[60] UNSW's entrant into the SAE-Australasia Formula SAE-A Competition (National winners in 2000)
  • The MAVSTAR[61] (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[62] 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.
UNSW National Snow Team winning the 2018 Championship

Student organisations[edit]

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.[63] This new student organisation is a major service provider on campus, running a number of retail outlets, student media such as Tharunka and an 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[64] and UNSW Lifestyle Centre merged to become UNSW Sport and Recreation then later absorbed into Arc @ UNSW to become ARC Sport. It runs the UNSW Fitness and Aquatic Centre, provides health and fitness facilities and services and supports the 30 UNSW affiliated sporting clubs that compete both at home and abroad.

Engagement with secondary and primary school students[edit]

Main Walkway during O-Week

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

  • 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, 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 School Mathematics Competition[65] – Since 1962, the School of Mathematics and Statistics has run the UNSW School Mathematics Competition. This competition is a three-hour open book olympiad-style exam designed to assess mathematical insight and ingenuity rather than efficiency in tackling routine examples. Competition results as used as part of the assessment criteria for some university scholarships awarded by the UNSW School of Mathematics and Statistics.
  • The UNSW COMPUTING ProgComp[66] – Since 1997, The School of Computer Science and Engineering (UNSW COMPUTING) has 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 Robotics Workshops[67] – 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]

Notable alumni include:

See also[edit]


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  3. ^ "QS World University Rankings 2019". Top Universities. 8 June 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  4. ^ "University of New South Wales". MyUniversity. Australian Government.
  5. ^ a b "Sydney Technical College". Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  6. ^ a b O'Farrell, UNSW, a portrait: the University of New South Wales, 1949-1999, UNSW Press, 1999, p. 15 ISBN 0-86840-417-9
  7. ^ "University Official Records". University of New South Wales Records & Archives Office.
  8. ^ O'Farrell, UNSW, a portrait: the University of New South Wales, 1949-1999, UNSW Press, 1999 at p33 ISBN 0-86840-417-9
  9. ^ "State Archives". UNSW Records and Archives Office. UNSW.
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  13. ^ "History – The University of New South Wales". 5 September 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  14. ^ "Prime Minister opens Lowy Cancer Research Centre at the University of New South Wales" (PDF). Australian Cancer Research Foundation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 December 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2010.
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  16. ^ "UNSW Singapore campus doomed to fail". The Australian. 27 June 2007. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
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  18. ^ a b "UNSW Symbol Guidelines". University of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012.
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  53. ^ a b "Bonus Points – Future Students – UNSW Australia". Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  54. ^ "About Us | Co-op Program". Retrieved 29 January 2017.
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  60. ^ "Redback Racing 63 – UNSW Formula SAE Team". Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  61. ^ Home. "MAVSTAR". Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  62. ^ Archived 7 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  63. ^
  64. ^
  65. ^ "The UNSW School Mathematics Competition". Retrieved 2016-11-02.
  66. ^ "ProgComp". Archived from the original on 2007-06-17. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
  67. ^ Archived 2012-01-11 at the Wayback Machine.

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]