On 11 October 1852, the University of Sydney was inaugurated, Australia’s first university.
The University of Sydney (USYD, or informally Sydney Uni) is a public research university located in Sydney, Australia. Founded in 1850, it is Australia’s first university and is regarded as one of the world’s leading universities.
The university is one of Australia’s six sandstone universities. Its campus, spreading across the inner-city suburbs of Camperdown and Darlington, is ranked in the top 10 of the world’s most beautiful universities by the British Daily Telegraph and the American Huffington Post.
The university comprises eight academic faculties and university schools, through which it offers bachelor, master and doctoral degrees.
The QS World University Rankings ranked the university as one of the world’s top 25 universities for academic reputation, and top 4 in the world and first in Australia for graduate employability. It is one of the first universities in the world to admit students solely on academic merit, and opened their doors to women on the same basis as men.
Five Nobel and two Crafoord laureates have been affiliated with the university as graduates and faculty. The university has educated seven Australian prime ministers, two governors-general of Australia, thirteen Premiers of New South Wales including incumbent Premier Dominic Perrottet, and 24 justices of the High Court of Australia, including four chief justices. The university has produced 110 Rhodes Scholars and 19 Gates Scholars.
The University of Sydney is a member of the Group of Eight, CEMS, the Association of Pacific Rim Universities and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
In 1848, William Wentworth, a University of Cambridge graduate, and Sir Charles Nicholson, a graduate of medicine from the University of Edinburgh Medical School, proposed a plan to expand the existing Sydney College into a larger university in the New South Wales Legislative Council.
Wentworth argued that a state secular university was imperative for the growth of a society aspiring towards self-government, and that it would provide the opportunity for “the child of every class, to become great and useful in the destinies of his country”. It would take two attempts on Wentworth’s behalf before the plan was finally adopted.
The university was established via the passage of the University of Sydney Act 1850 (NSW), on 24 September 1850 and was assented on 1 October 1850 by governor Sir Charles Fitzroy. Two years later, the university was inaugurated on 11 October 1852 in the Big Schoolroom of what is now Sydney Grammar School.
The first principal was John Woolley, the first professor of chemistry and experimental physics was John Smith. On 27 February 1858, the university received a royal charter from Queen Victoria, giving degrees conferred by the university rank and recognition equal to those given by universities in the United Kingdom. By 1859, the university had moved to its current site in the Sydney suburb of Camperdown.
In 1858, the passage of the Electoral Act provided for the university to become a constituency for the New South Wales Legislative Assembly as soon as there were 100 graduates of the university holding higher degrees eligible for candidacy.
This seat in the New South Wales legislature was first filled in 1876, but was abolished in 1880, one year after its second member, Sir Edmund Barton, who later became the first Prime Minister of Australia, was elected to the Legislative Assembly.
Most of the estate of John Henry Challis was bequeathed to the university, which received a sum of £200,000 in 1889. This was thanks in part due to Sir William Montagu Manning (Chancellor 1878–95) who argued against the claims by British tax commissioners. The following year, seven professorships were created: anatomy; zoology; engineering; history; law; logic and mental philosophy; and modern literature.
The University of Sydney is associated with five Nobel laureates: in chemistry John Cornforth (alumnus; the only Nobel Laureate born in New South Wales) and Robert Robinson (staff); in economics, John Harsanyi (alumnus); and in physiology or medicine, John Eccles and Bernard Katz (both staff).