Western Sydney University

Western Sydney University, formerly the University of Western Sydney, is an Australian multi-campus university in the Greater Western region of Sydney, Australia. The university in its current form was founded in 1989 under the terms of the State Legislature "Western Sydney University Act 1997 No 116"[1], which created a federated network university with an amalgamation between the Nepean College of Advanced Education and the Hawkesbury Agricultural College. The Macarthur Institute of Higher Education was incorporated in the university in 1989, and in 2001 the University of Western Sydney was restructured as a single multi-campus university rather than as a federation. In 2015, the university underwent a rebranding which resulted in a change in name from the University of Western Sydney to Western Sydney University. It is a provider of undergraduate, postgraduate and higher research degrees with campuses in Bankstown, Blacktown, Campbelltown, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Parramatta, and Penrith.

Western Sydney University
Emblem of Western Sydney University
Former name
University of Western Sydney
Established1989 (1989)
ChancellorPeter Shergold AC
Vice-ChancellorBarney Glover
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,
CampusUrban, total 1713.5 ha
ColoursCrimson, White and Black

In 2019 the QS World University Rankings ranks the university 25th in Australia, coming 5th in Sydney.[2] It is currently ranked in the top 300 in the world in the 2019 THE World University Rankings and 19th in Australia.[3][4]


Foundation and early years

The University consists of an amalgamation of campuses, each with their own unique and individual history. In 1891, the Hawkesbury campus was established as an agricultural college by the NSW Agricultural Society. At Parramatta, Western Sydney University owns and has renovated the Female Orphan School building, the foundation stone of which was laid by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1813.[5]

In 1987 the New South Wales Labor government planned to name the university Chifley University, after the former Labor Prime Minister, Ben Chifley. However, in 1989, a new Liberal government reversed this decision and controversially named it the University of Western Sydney.[6]

In 1989, teachers' colleges and Colleges of Advanced Education in Sydney's western suburbs were given university status under the University of Western Sydney Act of 1988. The 1990s saw the federation of three education providers: UWS Nepean, UWS Hawkesbury and UWS Macarthur. 1989 was the year the Hawke federal labour government introduced HECS, the Higher Education Contribution Scheme. The University has a legislative basis in NSW state legislation with the passing of the University of Western Sydney Act (NSW) 1997, which also empowers the university to make by-laws affecting the operation of the university. In 2000, in order to reduce administrative expenses and duplication of courses offered by the inner Sydney universities and to eliminate competition between Western Sydney University member institutions, Western Sydney University became one multi-campus university.

Recent history (2000 to present)

Federal Government funding of Australia's universities as a percentage of Australia's GDP was in decline during the years of the Howard government.[7] Federal funding policy was very influential at UWS.[8] In 2000, after internal restructuring and cost-cutting, UWS Hawkesbury, UWS Macarthur and UWS Nepean ceased to exist as autonomous components of the now defunct University of Western Sydney federation and became the new multi-campus University of Western Sydney.[9] In the 2000s, UWS consolidated its schools of fine art, social science, humanities and psychology. In this decade the university introduced its first nanotechnology and biotechnology undergraduate degrees.

In 2003, UWS sponsored a Samuel Beckett symposium as part of the Sydney Festival.[10] In 2004, UWS joined with Metro Screen and SLICE TV to successfully bid for Sydney's first permanent Community Television licence. Television Sydney, broadcasting as TVS, launched in February 2006 from a broadcast operations centre located on the Werrington South Campus. In 2006 the UWS news site reported: "Demand to study at the University of Western Sydney is on the rise, with UWS receiving the third-biggest jump in first preferences among NSW and ACT universities for 2007".[11] In 2007, UWS had its first intake for the Bachelor of Medicine / Bachelor of Surgery.[12] In the same year UWS was part of a consortium with Griffith University and the University of Melbourne to win funding for a National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies.[13]

In 2008, UWS announced its current water and energy saving strategies,[14] its Indigenous Advisory Board[15] and endorsed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology to the Stolen Generations. In 2011 and 2012, Professor's Roy Tasker [16] and James Arvanitakis,[17] respectively, were announced as the Prime Minister’s Australian University Teacher of the Year

On 30 August 2015, the University of Western Sydney underwent a rebranding which resulted in a change in name to Western Sydney University.[18] Many students criticized the re-branding, calling it a waste of money that stripped the university community of its established identity.[19]


Reports of on-campus sexual assault and harassment

Between 2011 and 2016 there were 28 officially reported cases of sexual abuse and harassment on campus, resulting in no expulsions, no suspensions and 7 warnings.[20] The 2017 Australian Human Rights Commission report on sexual assault and harassment gave figures substantially higher than this.[21]

Complementary medicine

Early in 2016 some controversy surrounding the University's full support of complementary medicine[22] and the university's alleged spying on employees who lodge complaints[23] in good faith emerged in the press. An employee, as well as eminent scientists,[22] criticised the support of the University for complementary medicines such as homeopathy, acupuncture, TCM, energy healing etc.[24][25] The main controversial aspect was the continued support of these pseudo-scientific fields in exchange for continued funding from the naturopathic Jacka Foundation of Natural Therapies.[26][27]

The National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), a part of Western Sydney University, won the Bent Spoon Award in November 2017. This award is bestowed by the Australian Skeptics to "the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle".[28][29] In early 2017, the university unsuccessfully attempting to block their "Bent Spoon" nomination.[30][31] This led to a number of articles appearing in the media taking an in-depth look at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine.[32][33][31] The university was found to have accepted an untied gift of $10 million [34][35][36] from the controversial supplement company, Blackmores.[37] These funds will partly be used to establish a traditional Chinese medicine 'hospital' in Sydney's health precinct, Westmead.[36]


The Western Sydney University is made up of six campuses and one precinct, with each campus hosting their own unique array of courses, of which different units can be completed across multiple campuses.


The Bankstown Campus is a relatively new campus, located at Milperra, about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the Bankstown CBD. Specialising in the social sciences, most of the students on campus are psychology, sociology, arts, linguistics and education students. The campus also hosts the Bachelor of Policing degree and much of The MARCS Institute. The campus also includes a modern cafeteria/eatery area as well as Oliver brown.

The University's most well-known interpreting and translation course is taught at Bankstown campus, and trains and produces many NAATI accredited interpreters and translators.

The oldest building on campus was opened in 1989. The building contains a plaque indicating that it was opened by the then treasurer and former Prime Minister Paul Keating.


In 2009 Western Sydney University opened The College at the old Blacktown campus of the University after protest about the divesting of property and resources from the site.

The University's Nirimba campus is built on the site of HMAS Nirimba, a former naval aviation base, and is also known as the Nirimba Education Precinct, located in Quakers Hill,[38] about a 10-minute drive from Blacktown. The nearest railway station is Quakers Hill. The campus has many historical buildings and two crossed air runways that ceased operation 1994. The Nirimba campus has student accommodation, air-conditioned lecture theatres and rooms built in the 1990s. The campus has views of the now closed Schofields Aerodrome. Campus numbers have dwindled since the University reduced the range of courses available. The campus is primarily a single-discipline campus, offering business courses which are also taught at other Western Sydney University campuses. Nirimba campus is not far from Norwest Business Park.

Located in the Nirimba Education Precinct in Quakers Hill, the campus is the home of the Western Sydney University-owned UWSCollege. Western Sydney University shares the precinct with TAFE NSW-Western Sydney Institute, Nirimba College, St John Paul II Catholic College and Wyndham College. Together the institutions "work through a collaborative partnership focusing on innovation, enterprise and dedication in achieving the best possible outcomes for students."[38]

In recent times there has been much controversy over the status of this campus, at one point Western Sydney University was depicted in the media as abandoning the campus and the local area it served.[39] There was even a Council run protest at the closure called Save UWS Nirimba, where politicians and the University were petitioned to save the campus from closure, later it was decided rather than divesting they would set up The College. Western Sydney University has recently announced for its Blacktown campus a brand new Medical facility called the Blacktown-Mount Druitt Clinical school[40] which would be based at Blacktown Hospital, making it the second clinical school associated with the School of Medicine; the first school being the Macarthur Clinical School at Campbelltown Hospital which opened in March 2007. In 2017 the University announced plans to sell off land held on the Nirimba site, previously set aside for student accommodation.[41]

The library located in C21 was originally a dual purpose library, though run and staffed by Western Sydney University it was also used as the TAFE library. Now a 'triple purpose' library is also caters to the students of The College. Both WSI TAFE and The College provide funding to Western Sydney University for this privilege, however as with all Western Sydney University libraries, purchasing, collection maintenance and staffing is managed centrally.


The Campbelltown Campus is located in the semi-rural Macarthur region in South Western Sydney. Together with the Bankstown campus, the Campbelltown campus was originally part of the Macarthur Institute of Higher Education, founded in 1984. The campus offers degrees (among many others) in medicine, health, sciences, nursing, law and business. Research centres are also located in the campus.

In 2007 the School of Medicine was established and began offering the Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree for the first time in the university's history. It is hoped that many of the School's graduates will practice in the Western Sydney region, in order to redress the shortage of healthcare professionals in the area.

The on-campus student accommodation (called 'Gunydji') was upgraded in 2010 with a maximum occupancy of 205. It is a complex of self-contained units that accommodate five tenants each.[42]

The campus is home to the UWS Rotary Observatory, designed by Dr. Ragbir Bhathal, consisting of two observing domes of 4.5m and 2.9m diameter respectively,[43] opened on 15 July 2000. The observatory is principally utilised for Optical S.E.T.I. research but also hosts community astronomy nights, in collaboration with Macarthur Astronomical Society. In 2013 the observatory was relocated to make way for a new residential housing estate to the south of the campus. It was reopened in a new location on 2 October 2014.[44] The campus also provides the venue for the Macarthur Astronomy Forum.


The Hawkesbury campus, also known as the Richmond campus, is located on a 1,300 hectare site in the Hawkesbury Valley in north-western Sydney, next to the town of Richmond. Courses are offered in environmental health, forensic science, nursing, medical science, natural science (environmental, agricultural, horticultural), secondary school science teaching. Hawkesbury campus facilities include research labs, farmland, aquacultural (not operational) and equine facilities, residential halls and cottages, a conference centre, religious centres, a campus social hub called Stable Square, featuring cafeterias, a bar (not operational), a music room and a large collection of Hawkesbury Agricultural College memorabilia.

The campus was originally the Hawkesbury Agricultural College, established by the New South Wales Department of Agriculture in 1891. It later became a College of Advanced Education until 1989, then UWS Hawkesbury (as a member institution of UWS with campuses and Richmond and Quaker's Hill) until 2000. The School of Agriculture operated a commercial dairy until it closed in 2004.[45]

The Hawkesbury campus houses the Hawkesbury Forest Experiment. The experiment consists of twelve giant chambers with individual, living trees in controlled environments which will help predict what will happen to the Australian bush over the next century.[46]

This campus is also home to the forensic science degree and holds a crime scene house, various forensic lab equipment. The Centre for Plant and Food Science is also located at this campus.[47]

Hawkesbury Earthcare Centre, an organic farming organisation with a seedbank is located at Hawkesbury Campus. The centre is affiliated with Henry Doubleday Research and the Alternative Technology Association.[48]

The Hawkesbury campus is next to Richmond TAFE. The nearest railway station is East Richmond


Former Female Orphan School, now the site of the Whitlam Institute.

The Parramatta Campus is on the site of a female orphan school founded in 1813.[49][50] The site was formerly home to Rydalmere Psychiatric hospital and is located at the eastern end of Parramatta, near the border with the suburb of Rydalmere.

A historical site with contemporary features, the Rydalmere campus was established as a campus of UWS in 1998 and has proved one of the more coveted campuses for students as it is geographically located in the centre of the Greater Sydney region and out of the eight campuses of UWS, it is the nearest campus to the Sydney CBD (making it close to more amenities and employment areas).

Parramatta campus courses include occupation fields like Science, Business and Law/justice just to name a few. It also hosts their Science courses in modern buildings near to the Rydalmere campus at a site formerly used by quarantine authorities, CSIRO, Amdel Sugar, and the Biological and Chemical Research Institute laboratories.[51]

Before the Parramatta campus was developed, classes were held at the Westmead Precinct; that is now part of the Parramatta campus. The oldest building on the site was the home of the historic St Vincent's Orphanage. A school focused on IELTS proficiency, called UWS College, is currently located at the Westmead Precinct. The Westmead area is one of Sydney's premier medical districts and includes Westmead Hospital and The Children's Hospital at Westmead; both teaching hospitals, although not formally affiliated with the University.

Parramatta City

The University has announced the establishment of a new campus in the Parramatta CBD as an extension of its existing Parramatta Campus in 2014. The Parramatta City Campus (1PSQ) is located at 169 Macquarie Street and 100 George Street, Parramatta NSW, 2150. This will see some of its postgraduate courses relocate there, particularly in business (Sydney Graduate School of Management), the social sciences and humanities[52].


The Penrith Campuses are made up of three areas in two Sydney suburbs; Kingswood, Werrington South and Werrington North.

Kingswood has most of the campus's student services and facilities, computer rooms, classrooms and lecture theatres. It also has tennis courts, a gym, a bar (the Swamp Bar) and student accommodation. The Allen Library and Ward Library have now merged and are housed in a new building on the Kingswood campus. The new building (John Phillips Library) has been shortlisted for the 2015 World Architecture Festival (WAF) Awards.

Werrington South has fewer classrooms and lecture theatres. Werrington South also contains the faculty of communications, design and media. This is the campus for the Bachelor of Design (Visual Communications) degree. As of the end of 2016, these classes were no longer offered on this campus, can saw both the Design and Media arts subjects be relocated to Parramatta and the remaining classes be transferred to Kingswood. Majority of this site is now used for staff purposes.

Werrington North used to be a teaching campus but is now administration only, and houses the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor's offices. It also has the Nepean Observatory built by Dr Graeme White (no longer with UWS) and members of the UWS Centre for Astronomy.

Focus areas are split between Werrington South and Kingswood, with most engineering, computing, music and humanities subjects having classes in Kingswood and design having classes at Werrington South.

Western Sydney University also hosts the broadcast centre of Sydney's community television station TVS on Werrington South located in Building BD. As of 2015 TVS no longer broadcasts from this location due to the change of community licensing for stations ending in 2015. This change was made by then communications minister Malcolm Turnbull.[53]

Western Sydney University hosts the radio broadcast centre of ABC Local Radio, ABC Radio National, ABC Classic FM, Triple J, ABC NewsRadio, ABC Dig Music, ABC Jazz, & ABC Country from the Ultimo radio studios.

Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is the peak jurisdiction for the University and has members consisting from Ministerial appointments, academic appointments, and an undergraduate and post-graduate student representative[1][54].



Western Sydney University's academic activity is organized into "schools" of various academic faculties. Currently, the university has nine schools:

  • School of Business
  • School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics
  • School of Education
  • School of Humanities and Communication Arts
  • School of Law
  • School of Medicine
  • School of Nursing and Midwifery
  • School of Social Sciences and Psychology
  • School of Science and Health

As of January 2020, the Board of Trustees approves the establishment of the following Schools[55];

  • School of Health
  • School of Science
  • School of Social Sciences
  • School of Psychology
  • School of the Built Environment, Architecture and Industrial Design
  • School of Computing, Mathematics, Statistics and Data Science
  • School of Engineering

And the concurrent disestablishment of the following existing Schools:

  • School of Science and Health
  • School of Social Sciences and Psychology
  • School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics

Research institutes and centres

In 2013 Western Sydney University was successful in obtaining over $5.8 million in grants from the prestigious Australian Research Council for 18 Discovery Projects, placing it 11th out of 40 universities in Australia.[56]

The Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment was officially opened in 2012, funded by a $40 million grant from the Australian Government Education Investment Fund. It houses some of the largest and most complex facilities in the world for researching the effects of climate change.[57]

Western Sydney University has 11 Research Institutes and Centres.

Prominent academics

The winner of the 2007 Miles Franklin Literary Award, Alexis Wright, is a UWS Postdoctoral Research Fellow.[58]

Award winning Australian author Gail Jones is a Professor in the University’s Writing and Society Research Centre.[59]

Rankings and reputation

Western Sydney University is ranked 24th in Australia in 2020 according to the QS World University Rankings.[2]

University rankings
Western Sydney University
QS World[60]=468
THE-WUR World[61]351-400
ARWU World[62]301-400
USNWR World[63]=279
CWTS Leiden World[64]272[65]
Australian rankings
QS National[60]24
THE-WUR National[66]=12
ARWU National[67]15-21
USNWR National[68]=18
CWTS Leiden National[64]13
ERA National[69]19[70]

Student life

Student representation and participation

Prior to 2009, Western Sydney University had two student organisations, each with its own focus and areas of responsibility. These organisations voluntarily shut down operations in 2009. These organisations were responsible for the bulk of extracurricular activities and services provided by the University.

Each organisation previously sourced their funds from Compulsory Student Unionism fees. With the passage of Voluntary Student Unionism legislation, UWS agreed to fund the organisations, but at a substantially reduced level. UWSSA also asked students to pay a voluntary $60 fee.

UWSSA and PAUWS were independent of the University while UWSConnect is wholly owned by UWS.

  • UWSSA Inc. — UWS Students' Association. Its motto was "Bringing life to knowledge[71] " - a twist on the University's motto. It aimed to improve student life at the University by providing welfare and support services, and ran campaigns on issues affecting the student population.
  • PAUWS Inc. — The Postgraduate Association of UWS was a student's association for the postgraduate student population at the University.

UWSConnect Ltd. UWSConnect is a not-for-profit[72] company owned by the University which aims to improve university life by providing bars, cafés, sporting events, recreational activities, etc. It is responsible for organising commercial ties with the University and its students, such as advertising space within the University, vending machines and student discounts and special offers. UWSConnect has been criticised for high prices and poor quality food and events. This perception has dramatically improved since 2008, as the organisation consolidates itself at UWS.

In 2019 the university restructured Student representation into the Western Sydney University Student Representative Council (SRC) is the peak representative body for all enrolled students at Western Sydney University.[73] The Council consists of 22 Representatives elected to represent the various campuses of Western Sydney University, Consisting of campus representative, collective officers, and the executive.[74]


Western Sydney University has on-campus accommodation in the form of the UWS Village located adjacent to its Parramatta Campus. The village was opened in February 2009 providing apartments from one to eight bedrooms. At the time of opening, the village was the third Campus Living Villages property to be established in Sydney after the Macquarie University Village and the Sydney University Village.


Connect Fitness — Connect Fitness is a not for profit organisation located on the grounds of Western Sydney University with four gyms now in operation over the Kingswood, Hawkesbury, Bankstown & Campbelltown campuses.


WSUPnews is the student newspaper of the Western Sydney University. W'SUP was previously known as cruWsible which was established in 2013.

Notable people

The current and seventh Chancellor of the University since January 2011 is Peter Shergold, a former senior public servant and academic.[75] The current Vice-Chancellor and President of the university since January 2014 is Barney Glover.[76]

Ig Nobel Prize

In 2014, Peter K. Jonason a Postgraduate Psychology professor at UWS with a Ph.D. in Psychology won the Ig Nobel Prize for Psychology in 2014 for his research into the "dark side" of human nature completed in 2013 under the report titled "Creatures of the Night: Chronotypes and the Dark Triad Traits," Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 55, no. 5, 2013, pp. 538–541.[77][78]

See also


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