The University of Adelaide (informally Adelaide University) is a public research university located in Adelaide, South Australia. Established in 1874, it is the third-oldest university in Australia. The university’s main campus is located on North Terrace in the Adelaide city centre, adjacent to the Art Gallery of South Australia, the South Australian Museum, and the State Library of South Australia.
The university has four campuses, three in South Australia: North Terrace campus in the city, Roseworthy campus at Roseworthy and Waite campus at Urrbrae, and one in Melbourne, Victoria. The university also operates out of other areas such as Thebarton, the National Wine Centre in the Adelaide Park Lands, and in Singapore through the Ngee Ann-Adelaide Education Centre.
The University of Adelaide is composed of five faculties, with each containing constituent schools. These include the Faculty of Engineering, Computer, and Mathematical Sciences (ECMS), the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of the Professions, and the Faculty of Sciences. It is a member of the Group of Eight and the Association of Commonwealth Universities. The university is also a member of the Sandstone universities, which mostly consist of colonial-era universities within Australia.
The university is associated with five Nobel laureates, constituting one-third of Australia’s total Nobel Laureates, and 110 Rhodes scholars. The university has generated a considerable impact on the public life of South Australia, having educated many of the state’s leading businesspeople, lawyers, medical professionals and politicians. The university has been associated with many notable achievements and discoveries, such as the discovery and development of penicillin, the development of space exploration, sunscreen, the military tank, Wi-Fi, polymer banknotes and X-ray crystallography, and the study of viticulture and oenology.
The founders of the Adelaide University
(1875 engraving, Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers)
Mitchell Building, University of Adelaide (with man and penny farthing bicycle) & the Mortlock Library, North Terrace, Adelaide (looking West), 1879–1886
The University of Adelaide was established on 6 November 1874 after a £20,000 donation by grazier and copper miner Walter Watson Hughes, along with support and donations from Thomas Elder.
The university’s first chancellor was Sir Richard Hanson, and the first vice-chancellor was Augustus Short. The first degree offered was the Bachelor of Arts, and the university started teaching in March 1876. John Davidson was the first Hughes professor of English literature and mental and moral philosophy.
The university has a long history of championing the rights of women in higher education. It was the second university in the English-speaking world (after the University of London, 1878) to admit women on equal terms with men (1881), although women studied alongside men from the commencement of classes in 1876 and were equally eligible for all academic prizes and honours. Its first female graduate was Edith Emily Dornwell, who was also the first person in Australia to receive the degree of Bachelor of Science (BSc., 1885). The university also graduated Australia’s first female surgeon Laura Fowler (MB, 1891). Ruby Davy (B.Mus., 1907; D.Mus., 1918) was the first Australian woman to receive a doctorate in music. The university was also the first to elect a woman to a university council in Australia, Helen Mayo (MBBS, 1902), in 1914.
Exhibition Building demolished in the 1960s
The great hall of the university, Bonython Hall, was built in 1936 following a donation from the owner of The Advertiser newspaper, Sir John Langdon Bonython, who left £40,000 for a great hall for the university.
On 2 July 2010, the university officially implemented its “Smoke-Free Policy”. This move was the culmination of an anti-smoking agenda headed by Professor Konrad Jamrozik and subsequently, following Jamrozik’s death, the executive dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Justin Beilby. Security have the right to eject people smoking within the university buildings and also fine people smoking in the gardens or walkways. It is the first higher education institution in South Australia to institute a smoke-free policy. The North Terrace campus has been smoke-free since July 2010; it was planned that the Waite and Roseworthy campuses would be smoke-free by 2011, and the university’s residential facilities have also been made smoke-free.
In June 2018, the University of Adelaide and University of South Australia began discussions regarding the possibility of a merger. The proposition was described as the formation of a “super uni” by Steven Marshall and Simon Birmingham, but the merger was called off in October 2018. In 2022, the topic of a merger was raised again by the new government led by Peter Malinauskas, which proposed setting up a commission to investigate the possibility of a merger of the University of South Australia, the University of Adelaide and Flinders University. Staff’s opinions were evenly divided on the idea of the commission.
Mitchell Building from front, 2008.
The main campus of the university is on North Terrace. It is bordered by the Art Gallery of South Australia, the State Library of South Australia, the South Australian Museum and the “City East” campus of the University of South Australia. The Adelaide University Medical and Dental Schools were located across Frome Road, behind the old Royal Adelaide Hospital (now Lot Fourteen). The hospital moved to the western end of North Terrace and so have the schools; the Medical School North and South buildings were renamed Helen Mayo North and South from 1 January 2018, in honour of Helen Mayo, a doctor at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and a graduate of the University of Adelaide.
The vast majority of students and staff of the university are based at the North Terrace campus, where the majority of courses are taught and schools are based. The central administration of the university and the main library, the Barr Smith Library, are both located on this campus. While many other universities have law and business schools or satellite campuses within the central business district, the University of Adelaide is unique among Australian sandstone universities for having its main presence adjacent to the main business and shopping precinct.
Bonython Hall, (the great hall of the university), the Mitchell Building, the Elder Hall, the Napier building and the Ligertwood building, form the North Terrace street frontage of the campus. Bonython Hall is one of the many historic and heritage listed buildings located at the North Terrace campus. Others include the Mitchell Building, Elder Hall, and the Reading Room of the Barr Smith Library.
Adelaide University Union Building 1930
The heritage-listed group of buildings known as the Union Buildings or Union Building Group include the Lady Symon Building, the George Murray Building, the Cloisters, Union House and the Western Annexe. The earlier Georgian-style buildings, including the Cloisters, the Lady Symon Building (named after the wife of Sir Josiah Symon) and the George Murray building (named after George John Robert Murray, vice-chancellor and later chancellor of the university), were designed by the architects Woods, Bagot, Jory and Laybourne-Smith (who also designed Bonython Hall, the Mitchell Gates and Johnson Laboratory, the Barr Smith Library and the Bentham Building) in 1929 and 1937. Later additions. The award-winning redevelopments in 1971 and 1975 known as Union House, including the Union Bookshop, were designed by Dickson & Platten and Robert Dickson & Associates respectively.
In 2016, the university commenced work on a A$1 billion, 20-year “masterplan” for its three campuses. The masterplan envisages new facilities for all schools, and greatly enhanced campus amenities for students, with a focus on pedestrians and cyclists, providing better, safer pathways through the campus, and eliminating vehicle traffic where possible. At North Terrace, the Schulz building will be repurposed as an on-campus residential college, with accommodation, and recreational facilities including a gym. This major transformation of the university’s physical presence across all campuses comes in conjunction with the multimillion-dollar renewal and redevelopment of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) site on North Terrace. In September 2017, the RAH moved to the western end of North Terrace, in the $4 billion South Australian Health and Biomedical Precinct (SAHBP), at which the University of Adelaide also has a physical presence in the form of the Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences Building.
The main building at the Waite Research Institute.
The Waite campus has a strong focus on agricultural science, plant breeding and biotechnology. The School of Agriculture, Food and Wine is based on the Waite campus and the campus contains components of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. It is adjacent to the Urrbrae Agricultural High School.
A number of other organisations are co-located in the Waite Research Precinct, including the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) (which is part of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), whose headquarters are also at the campus); Australian Grain Technologies; the Australian Wine Research Institute. the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO); and the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG).
It is situated in Adelaide’s south-eastern foothills, in the suburb of Urrbrae on 174 hectares (430 acres). A large amount of the land was donated in 1924 by the pastoralist Peter Waite. A large amount of money was donated by Rosina and John, the widow and son of William Tennant Mortlock. These donations were initially used to establish the Peter Waite Institute of Agricultural Research (first Director A. E. V. Richardson), which later became the Waite campus.
A Soil Research Centre was founded in 1929 with a donation of £10,000 from Harold Darling of J. Darling and Son, grain merchants.
In 2004, Premier Mike Rann opened the multimillion-dollar Plant Genomics Centre at the Waite campus. Then in 2010 Premier Rann opened The Plant Accelerator, a $30 million research facility – the largest and most advanced of its kind in the world.
Malcolm Oades was the director from November 1996 to 2001.
Main article: Roseworthy College
Located north of the city, the Roseworthy campus comprises 16 km2 of farmland and is a large centre for agricultural research. It was the first agricultural college in Australia, established in 1883 and the first veterinary school in SA in 2008. Other organisations linked to the campus include SARDI and the Murray TAFE.
In 1991, the college merged with the University of Adelaide and became the university’s Roseworthy campus, part of the Faculty of Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. The merger would see teaching and research in oenology and viticulture transferred to the university’s Waite campus, along with the bulk of its work in plant breeding. Before the degree in oenology was transferred to the Waite campus, Roseworthy produced a number of highly regarded and awarded winemakers and wine critics.
From the mid-1990s, the major focus of the campus turned to dryland agriculture, natural resource management and animal production. The campus is also now home to South Australia’s first veterinary science training program, which commenced in 2008. The new Veterinary Science Centre houses not only teaching facilities, including a surgical skills suite, but also a public veterinary clinic offering general practice as well as emergency and specialist veterinary services for pet animals. There are also specialised pathology laboratories in this centre for teaching, research and diagnostic work. In 2013, the veterinary science facilities were expanded with the opening of the Equine Health and Performance Centre, a state-of-the-art facility for equine surgery, sports medicine, internal medicine and reproduction.
Main article: National Wine Centre of Australia
Located in the Adelaide Park Lands at the eastern end of North Terrace, the Wine Centre offers some of the university’s oenology courses. Opened in 2001, the facility also hosts public exhibitions about winemaking and its industry in South Australia. It contains an interactive permanent exhibition of winemaking, introducing visitors to the technology, varieties and styles of wine. It also has a wine tasting area, giving visitors the opportunity to taste and compare wines from different areas of Australia.
The Wine Centre is situated at the eastern end of North Terrace, Adelaide in the eastern parklands and adjacent to the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. The building, designed by Cox Grieve Gillett, uses building materials to reflect items used in making wine.
Stirling Street entrance to Thebarton
Thebarton is the base of the university’s Office of Industry Liaison. The precinct works in conjunction with the university’s commercial partners. Commercial enterprises at Thebarton include businesses involved in materials engineering, biotechnology, environmental services, information technology, industrial design, laser/optics technology, health products, engineering services, radar systems, telecommunications and petroleum services. The flames for the Sydney and Athens Olympic Games were developed at the Thebarton campus by the TEC group.
The Ngee Ann – Adelaide Education Centre (NAAEC) was the University of Adelaide’s first overseas centre. It was a joint venture with the Ngee Ann Kongsi foundation, started in 1998. In 2016, the University of Adelaide withdrew from the partnership, after about 3000 students had graduated over the 18 years of operation.
In 2018 the Singapore institution was rebranded as the Ngee Ann Academy, and in 2019 partnered with the University of Adelaide as well as