University of Tasmania

The University of Tasmania (UTAS) is a public research university primarily located in Tasmania, Australia. Founded in 1890,[5] it is Australia's fourth oldest university. Christ College, one of the university's residential colleges, was founded in 1846 and is the oldest tertiary institution in the country. The University of Tasmania is a sandstone university and is a member of the international Association of Commonwealth Universities[6] and the Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning.[7]

University of Tasmania
Coat of arms of the University of Tasmania
Latin: Universitas Tasmaniensis[1]
MottoIngeniis Patuit Campus
Motto in English
The Field is Open to Talent
TypePublic research university
Established1846 (as Christ College)
1890 (University status)
EndowmentA$561 million (2014)[2]
ChancellorMichael Field
Vice-ChancellorRufus Black
VisitorGovernor of Tasmania (ex officio)
Academic staff
1,255 (2018)[3]
Administrative staff
1,638 (2018)[3]
Students33,879 (2014)[4]
Undergraduates27,880 (2014)[4]
Postgraduates5,999 (2014)[4]
Student OrganisationsTasmania University Union Australian Maritime College Students' Association
Colors     Red      Black

The university offers various undergraduate and graduate programs in a range of disciplines, and has links with 20 specialist research institutes and cooperative research centres.[8] The university's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies have strongly contributed to the university's multiple 5 rating scores (well above world standard) for excellence in research awarded by the Australian Research Council. The University also delivers tertiary education at the Australian Maritime College, the national centre for maritime education, training and research.

The university was ranked in the top 10 research universities in Australia and in the top two per cent of universities worldwide in the Academic Ranking of World Universities.[9]


Founding and early years (1890–1938)

The University of Tasmania[10] was established on 1 January 1890, after the abolition of overseas scholarships freed up funds. It immediately took over the role of the Tasmanian Council for Education.[11] Richard Deodatus Poulett Harris, who had long advocated for the establishment of the university, became its first warden of the senate. The first degrees to graduates admitted ad eundem gradum and diplomas were awarded in June 1890. The university was offered an ornate sandstone building on the Queens Domain in Hobart, previously the High School of Hobart, though it was leased by others until mid-1892. This eventually became known as University House. Three lecturers began teaching 11 students from 22 March 1893, once University House had been renovated. Parliamentarians branding it an unnecessary luxury made the university's early existence precarious. The institution's encouragement of female students fuelled criticism. James Backhouse Walker, a local lawyer and briefly Vice-Chancellor, mounted a courageous defence. By the First World War there were over 100 students, and several Tasmanian graduates were influential in law and politics.

According to Chancellor Sir John Morris, from 1918 until 1939 the institution still 'limped along'. Distinguished staff had already been appointed, such as historian William Jethro Brown, physicists and mathematicians Alexander McAulay and his son Alexander Leicester McAulay, classicist RL Dunbabin, and philosopher and polymath Edmund Morris Miller. Housed in the former Hobart High School, facilities were totally outgrown, but the state government was slow to fund a new campus.

In 1914 the university petitioned King George V for Letters Patent,[12] which request he granted. The Letters Patent, sometimes called the Royal Charter, granted the university's degrees status as equivalent to the established universities of the United Kingdom, where such equivalents existed.[13]

World War II (1939–45)

During the Second World War, while the Optical Munitions Annexe assisted the war effort, local graduates, replacing soldier academics, taught a handful of students. New post-war staff, many with overseas experience, pressed for removal to adequate facilities at Sandy Bay on an old rifle range. Chancellor Sir John Morris, also Chief Justice, though a dynamic reformer, antagonised academics by his authoritarianism. Vice-Chancellor Torliev Hytten, an eminent economist, saw contention peak while the move to Sandy Bay was delayed. In a passionate open letter to the premier, Philosophy Professor Sydney Orr goaded the government into establishing the 1955 Royal Commission into the university. The commission's report demanded extensive reform of both university and governing council. Staff were delighted, while lay administrators fumed.

Post-war years (1946–64)

On 10 May 1949, the university awarded its first Doctor of Philosophy to Joan Munro Ford.[14][15] Ford worked as a research biologist in the University of Tasmania's Department of Physics between 1940 and 1950.[16]

In early 1956 Orr was summarily dismissed, mainly for his alleged though denied seduction of a student. A ten-year battle involved academics in Australia and overseas. Orr lost an unfair dismissal action in the Supreme Court of Tasmania and the High Court of Australia. The Tasmanian Chair of Philosophy was boycotted. In 1966 Orr received some financial compensation from the University, which also established a cast-iron tenure system. The latter disappeared with the federal reorganisation of higher education in the late 1980s.

In the early 1960s The University of Tasmania at last transferred to a purpose-built new campus at Sandy Bay, though many departments were initially housed in ex-World War II wooden huts. It profited from increasing federal finance following the 1957 Murray Report. Medical and Agricultural Schools were established and the sciences obtained adequate laboratories. Physics achieved world recognition in astronomy (optical, radio and cosmic rays), while other departments attracted good scholars and graduates were celebrated in many fields. Student facilities improved remarkably.

Mergers and the "new" university (1965–99)

The 1965 Martin Report established a traditional role for universities, and a more practical role for colleges of advanced education. The Tasmanian Government duly created the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education (TCAE) in 1966 sited on Mount Nelson above the university. It initially incorporated The School of Art, the Conservatorium of Music and the Hobart Teachers College. In 1971, a Launceston campus of the TCAE was announced. These were fateful decisions, as events over the next years showed. It was argued that the TCAE attempted to compete with the university, not complement it.

In 1978 the University of Tasmania took over two of the courses offered by the TCAE in Hobart, Pharmacy and Surveying, following a report by Professor Karmel, and another by H.E. Cosgrove. Some other TCAE courses in Hobart moved to Launceston. The curious situation of three separate courses in teacher education in the State could not last, however, and following two more reports, the university incorporated the remaining courses of the Hobart campus of the College of Advanced Education in 1981, which raised its numbers to 5000. The Launceston campus of the TCAE renamed itself the Tasmanian State Institute of Technology (TSIT).

In 1987, the University Council resolved to approach the TSIT to negotiate a merger to minimise ongoing conflict. The 'Dawkins Revolution' and the 'unified national system' provided later support for this initiative. The Tasmanian State Institute of Technology became the Newnham Campus of the university on 1 January 1991, exactly 101 years after the university's founding. A new campus at Burnie on the North-West Coast of Tasmania was opened in 1995, and later became known as the Cradle Coast Campus.

21st century

The Australian Maritime College (AMC), situated adjacent to the Newnham campus, integrated with the university in 2008. The University of Tasmania and TasTAFE are now the only public institutions of tertiary education in Tasmania; the private Tabor College Australia also offers bachelor-level awards.

In 2017 the university was steeped in controversy, as thousands of people signed a petition calling on University of Tasmania to ban from its campus 63-year-old university chemistry PhD student Nicolaas Bester.[17][18][19] Bester had been convicted and jailed for over two years in 2011 for a sex crime against a 15-year-old girl when he was a science teacher at an all-girls school.[17][18][19][20][21] He was convicted and jailed for an additional four months in 2016, for later bragging about it on social media.[17][18][20] Following complaints to the police and university about his behaviour in a campus gym in 2016, after his second period of incarceration, Bester agreed not to go to the gym or to social places on campus.[22]


The University of Tasmania has three main campuses based in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie, Tasmania. The University also has a number of small and specialist facilities including in Sydney at its Darlinghurst and Rozelle Campuses which form part of the College of Health and Medicine; and at its joint research facility at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Pyrmont.



  • School of Creative Arts & Media[26] based in the converted Jones & Co. IXL jam factory on Hobart's waterfront the campus hosts students and academics studying a range of art and design subjects such as painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, textiles, 3D Design and visual communication.
  • Institute of Marine and Antarctic Science (IMAS) campus encompasses research, learning and teaching on fisheries and aquaculture; ecology and biodiversity; and, oceans and the cryosphere. The campus is situated adjacent to the CSIRO Marine Laboratories, and is co-located with Australia's Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC), and the Tasmanian Partnership for Advanced Computing (TPAC).
  • Queen's Domain, the University's original site that encompasses the School of Nursing.

Sandy Bay and greater Hobart

  • Sandy Bay[27] – the Sandy Bay campus is set on 100 hectares of land in the suburb of Sandy Bay – about 35 minutes walk from the centre of Hobart.[28] The Sandy Bay campus overlooks the estuary of the River Derwent and has the majestic Mount Wellington as its backdrop. Much of the upper campus is in natural bushland. Approximately 10,000 students are enrolled at the southern campuses.
  • University Farm, a 334 hectare farm property located 20 km from the Sandy Bay campus and numerous other land parcels. The University Farm is set in the cropping and grape growing area of Cambridge located in the Coal River valley, serving the teaching and research needs of the School of Agricultural Science.[29]


  • Newnham – the Newnham campus is Launceston's main campus, looking down to the Tamar River, about 10 minutes from the city centre. Over 5000 students are enrolled at the Launceston campuses. Also including the newly built Student Center on Queens walk esplanade
  • The Australian Maritime College[31] is located adjacent to the Newnham campus.
  • The Tasmanian College of the Arts[32] and the School of Architecture & Design[33] are housed in the Inveresk Arts Precinct in Launceston, an award-winning 17-hectare inner city site comprising arts studios, galleries, performance spaces, a museum and specialist workshops. The Inveresk precinct is based on developed buildings from a disused rail-yards site.


  • Cradle Coast – established in 1995 as the North-West Study Centre, the now Cradle Coast campus in Burnie caters for researchers and students in the State's north-west. It underwent significant expansion in 2008.
  • Rural Clinical School, the University's state-of-the-art rural clinical school operated by the School of Medicine.[34]


  • Darlinghurst – established in 2006, the Darlinghurst campus delivers nursing, paramedic practice and health management courses.
  • Rozelle – established in 2010, the Rozelle campus delivers nursing and paramedic practice courses, the latter being in association with the Ambulance Service of NSW.[35]


The University of Tasmania library system comprises seven physical libraries[36] integrated into a single library system:

  1. Morris Miller Library (Sandy Bay) including Special & Rare Collections
  2. Law Library (Sandy Bay)
  3. Art Library (Centre for the Arts)
  4. Music Library (Conservatorium of Music)
  5. Clinical Library (Medical Sciences Precinct)
  6. Launceston Campus Library (Newnham)
  7. Cradle Coast Campus Library (Cradle Coast)



University rankings
University of Tasmania
QS World[37]287=
THE-WUR World[38]251–300
ARWU World[39]201-300
USNWR World[40]366=
CWTS Leiden World[41]320
Australian rankings
QS National[37]15
THE-WUR National[42]13=
ARWU National[43]9-14
USNWR National[44]18=
CWTS Leiden National[41]17
ERA National[45]11[46]

The University's national and international reputation is reflected by its top-10 standing as a recipient of research funding in Australia, and reaffirms its place in the top 2 per cent of research institutions in the world. The University is ranked 305th according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2015.[47]

The University's research strengths take advantage of these capabilities and Tasmania's unique characteristics, including its natural environment and geographical location. They lie in the thematic areas of Environment, Resources and Sustainability; Creativity, Culture and Society; Health; Marine, Antarctic and Maritime; and Data, Knowledge and Decision-making.[48]


The University of Tasmania has five colleges, previously known as faculties, some divided into schools and institutes:

The University currently holds the secretariat role of the International Antarctic Institute established in 2006 in partnership with 19 institutions in 12 countries.[49]

A partnership between the University and the Cradle Coast Authority established the Institute for Regional Development at the Cradle Coast campus in 2005.


The university maintains five multi-disciplinary research themes that provide ability for interdisciplinary collaboration.[50]

  • Environment, Resources and Sustainability
  • Creativity, Culture and Society
  • Better Health
  • Marine, Antarctic and Maritime
  • Data, Knowledge and Decisions

Research institutions include:

  • Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
  • Menzies Research Institute
  • Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies
  • Centre for Colonialism and its Aftermath
  • Centre for Law and Genetics
  • Tasmania Law Reform Institute
  • Centre for Aboriginal Education
  • Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies
  • Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute
  • Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies
  • Centre for Marine Science
  • Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC
  • Australian Centre for Research on Separation Science
  • Australian Innovation Research Centre
  • Centre of Excellence in Ore Deposits
  • Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • Australian Food Safety Centre of Excellence

The University of Tasmania maintains close linkages with the Tasmanian Government and its departments, with the teaching hospitals, with the Tasmania Police, and with relevant industry bodies such as fishing and farming.

Coat of arms

The Grant of Arms was made by the College of Arms. The blazon reads:

Argent a Lion passant Gules armed and langued Azure holding in its dexter paw a Torch enflamed Proper on a Chief Gules a Pale Azure fimbriated Or charged with a representation of the Southern Cross Argent between two closed Books clasped Or.[51]

Student life

Student unionism

Until 2008, there were two separate student unions: the Tasmania University Union (TUU) in Hobart and the Student Association (SA) in Launceston. Following the abolition of compulsory student unionism in 2007, the SA and the TUU amalgamated into one statewide organisation representing all UTAS students.[52]

The TUU is responsible for the overseeing of all the university's many sports clubs and societies. Some of these include faculty-based societies providing academic and careers guidance; societies relating to various interests, such as the Old Nick Company; and various sporting clubs, including cricket, football, rugby union and soccer.

The TUU also publishes the independent student media at the University of Tasmania, Togatus.[53]

Postgraduate students are represented by the TUU through the Tasmania University Union Postgraduate Council. The TUU Postgraduate Council was previously organised as the Tasmania University Postgraduate Association (TUPA). TUPA was established in 1982 to represent postgraduate research students on campus independently of the TUU.

Residential colleges and student accommodation

The university maintains a strong residential college system, as well as providing more independent apartment-style living. A key aspect of campus life, the residential colleges are equipped with modern facilities and host several events during the semesters. The colleges also maintain their respective student clubs, key in the passing of traditions from one cohort to the next. The southern colleges annually compete in a series of sporting events including Rugby, Australian Football, Cricket, Softball, Basketball, Table Tennis, Tennis and Soccer.

The college system comprises Christ College, Jane Franklin Hall and St. John Fisher College in Hobart, and Kerslake Hall, Leprena and Investigator Hall in Launceston. The university accommodation system also includes the University Apartments and Mount Nelson Villas in Sandy Bay, Hobart Apartments and MidCity in the Hobart CBD, Endeavour Hall in Beauty Point for students of the Australian Maritime College, Newnham Apartments and Inveresk Apartments in Launceston, and West Park Apartments in Burnie.

Two other residential colleges once existed in Hobart – the non-denominational Hytten Hall (1959–1980) located on the Sandy Bay campus, and now used as a building for the Faculty of Education, and Ena Waite Women's College (1968–1980), operated by the Catholic Church and located in central Hobart, which amalgamated with St. John Fisher College. An off-campus student residence in Launceston, Clarence House, operated from 2004 to 2008.

Tasmania Scholarships

The Tasmania Scholarships program supports the university's commitment to offer students equal learning opportunity. It assists talented students, both locally, nationally and internationally. Industry contributions now make up the backbone of the Tasmania Scholarships program. The development and growth of this initiative into one of the most successful sponsored programs in the country is exceptional by any standard. Around 10 per cent of all domestic students at UTAS receive some sort of scholarship or financial assistance. Scholarships are also offered under the banner of the Jim Bacon Memorial Scholarship, funded by the Tasmanian Government.

Notable people

The University of Tasmania has produced many notable alumni, with graduates having held the offices of Governor of Tasmania, Justices of the High, Supreme, Federal courts, Premiers of Tasmania and elected leaders of other states and territories, Rhodes Scholars, the first female professor in Australia, ministers of foreign countries, Lord Mayors, academics, architects, historians, poets, philosophers, politicians, scientists, physicists, authors, industry leaders, defence force personnel, corporate leaders, community leaders, and artists. There are over 100,000 graduates of the University of Tasmania, spanning 104 countries.[54]

International partnership

See also


  1. P. J. Anderson (ed.), Record of the Celebration of the Quatercentenary of the University of Aberdeen: From 25th to 28th September, 1906 (Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen, 1907), 392.
  2. "Higher Education Financial" (PDF). Department of Education.
  3. "Annual Report 2018" (PDF). University of Tasmania.
  4. "Annual Report 2014" (PDF). University of Tasmania.
  5. "An Act to establish a University in Tasmania", Victoriae Reginae No 41, Tasmanian Parliament, 5 December 1889.
  6. "University of Tasmania at ACU".
  7. "UIA – Union of International Associations". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  8. "UTAS Study Abroad Brochure 2007" (PDF). Retrieved 16 May 2010.
  9. "Learning and Teaching Repository".
  10. "University of Tasmania". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  11. 'Open to Talent: the centenary history of the University of Tasmania', Richard Davis, University of Tasmania Press, 1990. ISBN 0 908528 18 3. Also Accessed 26 June 2014.
  12. Accessed 26 June 2014.
  13. Accessed 26 June 2014.
  14. "DEGREES". The Examiner. Launceston, Tasmania. 12 May 1949. p. 4. Retrieved 28 October 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  15. "D.Ph. Degree To Former P.G.C. Girl". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 15 July 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 14 March 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  16. McCarthy, G.J. "Ford, Joan Munro (1918 – 1992?)". Encyclopaedia of Australian Science. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  17. "Students demand sex offender on campus to be banned".
  18. "Hundreds petition against sex offender's presence at University of Tasmania". 16 May 2017.
  19. "University silent on future of PhD student jailed on child sex offences". 6 April 2016.
  20. Tas Uni responds to sex offender controversy
  21. "Petition after sex offender allowed to study at University of Tasmania".
  22. "Subscribe to The Mercury".
  23. "Home – Conservatorium of Music – University of Tasmania, Australia". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  24. "School of Medicine". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  25. Menzies Research Institute Tasmania. "Menzies Research Institute Tasmania – Home". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  26. "Home – Art & Visual Communication – University of Tasmania, Australia". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  27. "Campus maps – Campuses – University of Tasmania, Australia". 22 September 2009. Retrieved 10 July 2010.
  28. "Google Maps – Directions – University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay to Hobart". 4 August 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  29. "Facilities – School of Agricultural Science – University of Tasmania". Retrieved 16 May 2010.
  30. Digital, Ionata. "University of Tasmania – Student Centre – Philp Lighton". Philp Lighton. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  31. "Australian Maritime College". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  32. "Home – Visual and Performing Arts – University of Tasmania, Australia". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  33. "Home – School of Architecture & Design – University of Tasmania, Australia". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  34. "Home – Rural Clinical School – University of Tasmania, Australia". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  35. "Campus Information". University of Tasmania.
  36. "University Library website, Our Libraries". Retrieved 17 August 2011.
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  39. "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2018". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.
  40. "U.S. News and World Report Best Global Universities Rankings". U.S. News and World Report.
  41. "CWTS Leiden Ranking 2017". Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University.
  42. "THE 2019 - Australia". Times Higher Education.
  43. "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2018 - Australia". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.
  44. "U.S. News and World Report Best Global Universities in Australia/New Zealand". U.S. News and World Report.
  45. "Australian University Rankings". Australian Education Network.
  46. "All unis winners in research audit". The Australian. 4 December 2015. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  47. "University of Tasmania Rankings". University of Tasmania.
  48. "University of Tasmania Statistics" (PDF). University of Tasmania.
  49. IAI information: Background, staff, partners Archived 28 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  50. "Research – Our Research Themes". University of Tasmania. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  51. Sale, Arthur. "Heraldry and Logos Part 2". Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  54. "Home – Alumni – University of Tasmania, Australia". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  55. "Jalinan Kerjasama - Stikes Jenderal Achmad Yani Yogyakarta". Archived from the original on 15 April 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2017.

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