Flinders University

Flinders University is a public 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 University
Motto"Inspiring Achievement"
ChancellorStephen Gerlach AM
Vice-ChancellorProfessor Colin Stirling
Administrative staff
1,479 (2017)
Students25,186 (2017)
Location, ,

35.020819°S 138.57275°E / -35.020819; 138.57275
OrganisationsIRU Australia

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, and its faculties of medicine and the humanities are ranked among the nation's top 10.[2]

The university is ranked within the world's top 500 institutions in the Academic Ranking of World Universities. In January 2019, Times Higher Education rankings of the world’s top universities ranks Flinders in the 251 – 300th bracket.[3]


Origins and construction

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

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

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]

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.[20]


The University's main campus is in the Adelaide inner southern suburb of Bedford Park, about 12 km south of the Adelaide city centre.[21] The University also has a presence in Victoria Square in the centre of the city,[22] and Tonsley.[23] 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.


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[24]
  • College of Education, Psychology and Social Work[25]
  • College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences[26]
  • College of Medicine and Public Health[27]
  • College of Nursing and Health Sciences[28]
  • College of Science and Engineering[29]


Flinders University has been served by six Chancellors and eight Vice Chancellors since its establishment in 1966. They are:[30]

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


University rankings
Flinders University
THE-WUR World[32]301–350
ARWU World[33]401–500
Australian rankings
ERA National[34]28

The university is ranked within the world's top 500 institutions in the Academic Ranking of World Universities.[35] The latest Times Higher Education rankings of the world’s top universities ranks Flinders University in the 301–350 bracket.[3]

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.


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.[36]


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, 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.

Distinguished alumni and persons

Entertainment and the arts



Science and mathematics



To date, Flinders has produced five Rhodes scholars.[38]

See also


  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. "Flinders University". Times Higher Education (THE). Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  4. 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. 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". www.bacterio.net. 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, author.), Katea; University, Flinders (2016). The Investigator transformed : 50 Years of Flinders University. Bedford Park, South Australia Flinders University. ISBN 9780646950808.
  19. "The Investigator Transformed – Flinders University". Flinders University. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  20. "Flinders edges closer to restructure". 24 November 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  21. Location and getting to Flinders, http://www.flinders.edu.au
  22. Flinders in the City Archived 11 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  23. "Flinders at Tonsley – Flinders University". Flinders University.
  24. "College of Business, Government and Law – Flinders University". Flinders University.
  25. "College of Education, Psychology and Social Work – Flinders University". Flinders University.
  26. "College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences – Flinders University". Flinders University.
  27. "College of Medicine and Public Health – Flinders University". Flinders University.
  28. "College of Nursing and Health Sciences – Flinders University". Flinders University.
  29. "College of Science and Engineering – Flinders University". Flinders University.
  30. "Flinders University". www.flinders.edu.au. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  31. About_ACD Archived 30 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine accessed 7 June 2011
  32. "World University Rankings 2019". TSL Education Limited.
  33. "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2018". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.
  34. "Australian University Rankings". Australian Education Network.
  35. "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2017". Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  36. Austlit. "Student Newspapers | AustLit: Discover Australian Stories". www.austlit.edu.au. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  37. "Tu'ivakano became Prime Minister Designate". Matangi Tonga. 21 December 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  38. "Rhodes scholars – Flinders University". Flinders University. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
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