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Flinders University

The Flinders University
of South Australia
Motto "Inspiring Achievement"
Established 1966
Type Public
Chancellor Stephen Gerlach AM
Vice-Chancellor Colin Stirling
Academic staff
1129 (2013)
Students 26,078 (2014)
Location Bedford Park, South Australia
Campus Suburban
Organisations IRU Australia
Flinders University logo
View of Flinders University main campus, with central plaza and lakeside area visible.

The Flinders University of South Australia, commonly referred to as Flinders University or simply Flinders, is a public university in Adelaide, South Australia. Founded in 1966, it was named in honour of navigator Matthew Flinders, who explored and surveyed the South Australian coastline in the early 19th century.

It is a member of the Innovative Research Universities (IRU) Group[1] and ranks in the 10-16 bracket in Australia[2] and 36th in the world of those established less than 50 years. Academically, the university pioneered a cross-disciplinary approach to education, and its faculties of medicine and the humanities are ranked among the nation's top 10.[3] The university is ranked within the world's top 400 institutions in the Academic Ranking of World Universities.[4] The latest Times Higher Education rankings of the world’s top universities ranks Flinders University in the 251 to 300 bracket. [5]


  • History 1
    • Origins and construction 1.1
    • Independence and opening 1.2
    • Expansion and restructuring 1.3
  • Campuses 2
  • Organisation 3
    • Faculties and schools 3.1
    • Affiliates 3.2
  • Student life 4
    • Housing 4.1
    • Media 4.2
    • Sports 4.3
  • Distinguished alumni and persons 5
    • Entertainment and the arts 5.1
    • Politics 5.2
    • Science and mathematics 5.3
    • Sport 5.4
    • Writers 5.5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Origins and construction

In the late 1950s, with the growth of population in South Australia and the University of Adelaide's North Terrace campus reaching full capacity, the need for a second South Australian university was identified. 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.[6]

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.[6]

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.[6]

Independence and opening

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.[6]

On 17 March 1966, a bill was passed by state parliament officially creating the Flinders University of South Australia.[7] 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.[6]

Flinders University was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, on 25 March 1966.[7] 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.[7]

Expansion and restructuring

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[8] and Biomedical Engineering[9] 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 the present four-faculty structure was adopted with only a minor change to the School structure made in 2011.

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.

In the past few years the University has grown substantially, establishing new disciplines in a number of areas including Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and more disciplines of Engineering.[10]

In 2015, the University will open a new campus at Tonsley (the former site of the Mitsubishi Motors Australia plant) in Southern Adelaide. This campus will initially house the University's School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics, along with the Medical Device Research Institute and the Centre for Nanoscale Science and Technology.


The University's main campus is in the Adelaide inner southern suburb of Bedford Park, about 12 km south of the Adelaide city centre.[11] The University also has a presence in Victoria Square in the centre of the city,[12] and Tonsley. It also maintains a number of external teaching facilities in regional South Australia, south-west Victoria and the Northern Territory. International students make up 10% of the on-campus student population 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.

Faculties and schools

  • Faculty of Education, Humanities and Law[13]
    • School of Education
    • School of Humanities
    • Flinders Law School
  • Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences[14]
    • School of Medicine
    • School of Health Sciences
    • School of Nursing and Midwifery
  • Faculty of Science and Engineering[15]
    • School of Biological Sciences
    • School of Chemical and Physical Sciences
    • School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics
    • School of the Environment
  • Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences[16]
    • Flinders Business School
    • School of Psychology
    • School of International Studies
    • School of Social and Policy Studies


Student life


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.


The 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.

The newly formed student organisation, Flinders One, launched Libertine Magazine in 2008. It was published quarterly at the beginning of each term. Libertine was contributed to by students across the Flinders community and features articles, a feature artist, columns, creative writing, and a rant in each edition. It was partially funded by outside advertising, which was liaised through Flinders One. Libertine Magazine finished printing at the end of 2011 after the 2011 Student Council decided to revamp it.

A Media Group was established by the Student Council. After the SSAF passed in 2012, more money was available for Student Media.

Empire Times has been revived in 2013 by FUSA (Flinders University Student Association). Empire Times releases 10 issues over the academic year.


Flinders University has many sports teams that compete in social and competitive competitions. Flinders University also fields a baseball side in the Division 5 and Division 6 levels of the South Australian Baseball League.

Distinguished alumni and persons

Entertainment and the arts


Science and mathematics



To date, Flinders has produced four Rhodes scholars.[19]

See also


  1. ^ Innovative Research Universities,
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d e Flinders University - 1958-1965: From the ground up
  7. ^ a b c Flinders University - 1966-1971: The first students
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Location and getting to Flinders,
  12. ^ Flinders in the City,
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ About_ACD accessed 7 June 2011
  18. ^
  19. ^

External links

  • Flinders University
  • The Flinders University of South Australia Act 1966
Affiliated teaching bodies
  • Australian Science and Mathematics School
  • Flinders Medical Centre
  • Adelaide Central School of Art
  • Helpmann Academy
Institutional affiliations
  • Australia New Zealand School of Government
  • Innovative Research Universities Australia

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