University of Tasmania

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University of Tasmania
UTAS Coat of Arms
Coat of arms of the University of Tasmania
Latin: Universitas Tasmaniensis[1]
Motto Ingeniis Patuit Campus
Motto in English
The Field is Open to Talent
Established 1846 (as Christ College)
1890 (University status)
Type Public
Endowment A$561 million (2014)[2]
Chancellor Michael Field
Vice-Chancellor Peter Rathjen
Visitor Governor of Tasmania (ex officio)
Academic staff
1,152 [3]
Administrative staff
1,548 [3]
Students 33,879 [3]
Undergraduates 27,880 [3]
Postgraduates 5,999 [3]
Location Hobart, Launceston and Burnie, Tasmania; Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Australia
Campus Urban
Student Union Tasmania University Union
Colors      Red      Black
Affiliations ASAIHL

The University of Tasmania (UTAS) is a public research university primarily located in Tasmania, Australia. Officially founded in 1890,[4] it was the fourth university to be established in Australia, although Christ College, which became affiliated with the university in 1929, was established in 1846 and remains the oldest form of higher education in the country. The University of Tasmania is a sandstone university and is a member of the international Association of Commonwealth Universities[5] and the Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning.[6]

The university offers various undergraduate and graduate programs in a range of disciplines, and has links with 20 specialist research institutes, cooperative research centres and faculty based research centres; many of which are regarded as nationally and internationally competitive leaders.[7] 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 is highly regarded for its commitment to excellence in learning and teaching. It 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. The university also received more teaching awards than any other Australian university by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching in 2012.[8]



The university's first site in Queens Domain

The University of Tasmania [9] 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.[10] Richard Deodatus Poulett Harris, who had long advocated 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 eleven 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 one hundred 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.

Letters Patent

In 1914 the university petitioned King George V for Letters Patent,[11] 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.[12]

World War II

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.

First PhD

On 10 May 1949, the university awarded its first Doctor of Philosophy to Joan Munro Ford.[13][14] Ford worked as a research biologist in the University of Tasmania's Department of Physics between 1940 and 1950.[15]

The Orr Case

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.

The 1960s

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-WWII 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

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 minmise 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. Though the amalgamated institution retained the old name of University of Tasmania, like other contemporary institutions a new era dominated by market forces rather than generous public funding controls its future.

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 institutions of tertiary education in Tasmania.


File:University of Tasmania Student Centre.jpg
University Centre, Sandy Bay Campus, Hobart
File:UTAS Academy Galley.jpg
Tasmanian College of the Arts, Inveresk Campus, Launceston

The University of Tasmania has three main generalist campuses: Sandy Bay, Newnham and the Cradle Coast campuses, and numerous satellite campuses listed below.


  • Sandy Bay[16] - 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.[17] 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. About 10,000 students are enrolled at the southern campuses.
  • The Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music[18] (the Conservatorium of Music campus is no longer a public building; access to the premises by the public, students and staff is restricted).
  • Medical Sciences Precinct in the inner city that encompasses the School of Medicine [19] and the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania.[20]
  • Centre for the Arts [21] in Hobart's cultural precinct encompassing the Tasmanian College of the Arts' fine arts courses, as well as the Centre for Legal Studies offering the practical legal training course.
  • Institute of Marine and Antarctic Science (IMAS) site on the Hobart docks.
  • Queen's Domain, the University's original site that encompasses the School of Nursing.
  • 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.[22]


  • 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.
  • The Australian Maritime College [23] is located adjacent to the Newnham campus.
  • The Tasmanian College of the Arts [24] and the School of Architecture & Design [25] 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.[26]


  • Darlinghurst - established in 2006, the Darlinghurst campus delivers nursing, paramedic practice and health management courses.
  • Rozelle - established in 2010, the Rozelle campus delivers paramedic practice courses in association with the Ambulance Service of NSW.[27]


The University of Tasmania library system comprises seven physical libraries[28] 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[29] 379
QS Arts & Humanities[30] 325
QS Engineering & Tech.[31] 51-100
QS Natural Sciences[32] 282
THE-WUR World[33] 251-300
ARWU World[34] 305
USNWR World[35] 251-300
Australian rankings
QS National[36] 10
ARWU National[37] 10
USNWR National[38] 10
ERA National[39] 10

The Universities reputation nationally and internationally is reflected in its top-10 standing in terms of research funding in Australia, and reaffirms its place in the top 2 per cent of research institutes in the world. The University claimed 17 places to rank 308th according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2014. [40]

The Universities research strengths take advantage of the capabilities and the Tasmania's natural advantages. They lie in the thematic areas of Environment, Resources and Sustainability; Creativity, Culture and Society; Better Health; Marine, Antarctic and Maritime; and Data, Knowledge and Decisions.[3]

File:UTAS Town and Gown.jpg
Students in the 'Town and Gown' graduation procession, Hobart


The University of Tasmania has six faculties, some divided into schools, and three institutes:

The University currently holds the secretariat role of the International Antarctic Institute established in 2006 in partnership with 19 institutions in 12 countries.[41]

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


File:UTAS Medical Science Building.png
Medical Science Building, City Campus, Hobart
File:UTAS Menzies Building.jpg
Menzies Research Institute Building, City Campus, Hobart

The university's priority research themes include[42]

  • Antarctic and Marine
  • Community, Place and Change
  • Sustainable Primary Production
  • Population and Health
  • Environment
  • Frontier Technologies

Research institutions

  • Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
  • Menzies Research Institute Tasmania
  • 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 Agricultural Research
  • 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.

Student life

Student unionism

File:UTAS Students Sandy Bay.jpg
Students at the Sandy Bay Campus, Sandy Bay
File:TUU O-Week.jpg
The TUU O-Week Sports and Societies Day, Sandy Bay
File:Harmony Day UTAS Launceston.jpg
Harmony Day at the Newnham Campus, Launceston

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.[43]

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.

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, Endeavour Hall in Beauty Point for students of the Australian Maritime College, and Newnham Apartments in Launceston.

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. Two off-campus student residences in Launceston, Tamar Hall and Clarence House, closed in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

Residence Est. Location Students Mascot Colours
Christ College 1846 Sandy Bay 200 Black Pigs Black, gold and blue               
Jane Franklin Hall 1950 South Hobart 168 Raiders Red, white and black               
St. John Fisher College 1963 Sandy Bay 111 Hellfish Blue and white          
University Apartments 2004 Sandy Bay 173 Possum Blue, green, grey and yellow                    
Leprena Student Residences 1985 Newnham 155
Kerslake Hall 1970 Newnham 107
Investigator Hall 1980 Newnham
Endeavour Hall 1979 Beauty Point 112
Newnham Apartments 2014 Newnham 180

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.

Notable alumni

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 currently over 100,000 graduates of the University of Tasmania, spanning 104 countries.[44]


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External links

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