University Medal

A University Medal is one of several types of award conferred by universities upon outstanding students or members of staff. The usage and status of university medals differ between countries and between universities.

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.[1] 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".[2] 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. For example, Australian politician and judge H. V. Evatt won University Medals in Philosophy and Law from the University of Sydney, and Brian Anderson, the former President of the Australia Academy of Science and the International Federation of Automatic Control, won University Medals in Engineering and Mathematics from the University of Sydney. Timothy Potts, Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, won University Medals in Philosophy and Archaeology from the University of Sydney

Sri Lanka

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.

United States

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.[3]

As award for service

In some universities, the University Medal is bestowed upon members of the university for their extraordinary contribution to the University.[4] Such an award is often conferred upon retirement of a staff member.[5]

Notable University Medal winners

Australian National University

Indiana University Bloomington

State University of New York at Stony Brook

University of Queensland

University of Sydney

  • Sir Edmund Barton first Prime Minister of Australia and Justice of the High Court of Australia; Classics.
  • Sir Garfield Barwick Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia; Law.
  • Sir John Cornforth Organic chemist and Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry; Chemistry.
  • "Doc" Evatt Politician and judge; Philosophy and Law.
  • Emeritus Professor Hans Freeman Bio-inorganic chemist and protein crystallographer; Chemistry.
  • Sir John Kerr Judge and governor-general; Law.
  • Sir Percy Spender Jurist and politician; Law.
  • Major General Sir William John Victor Windeyer Justice of the High Court and Privy Council
  • Robert Sinnerbrink; Australian philosopher and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Macquarie University; Philosophy.
  • Geordie Williamson; FRS,FAA; Mathematician; Geometric Representation Theory; Director of the Sydney Mathematical Research Institute

See also


  1. Guidelines for the Award of UTS Medals. University of Technology, Sydney. Accessed 2007-05-02.
  2. Award of University Medals policy. University of New South Wales. Accessed 2007-05-02.
  3. University Medal. University of California, Berkeley. Accessed 2007-05-02
  4. The University Medal. Duke University. Accessed 2007-05-02.
  5. The Medals:Awards and Honours. Indiana University. Accessed 2007-05-02.
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