Flinders University

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Flinders University is an integral part of Australia's respected higher education system and makes an important economic and social contribution to South Australia and to the nation.

Flinders has a high research profile and consistently ranks among Australia's top universities on a per capita basis for research.

Established in 1966, in a period of significant expansion of higher education in Australia, we have grown to become a model for a modern university – successful, progressive and dynamic yet still friendly and accessible.

We emphasise innovation and excellence in our educational programs and research across a wide range of disciplines.

Flinders is steadily expanding its international profile and has increasing numbers of onshore and offshore students who come from over 80 countries.

Mission and aims Flinders University's mission is expressed in four words:

think lead learn link These inform our teaching, research and community engagement. They also focus our commitment to innovation.

Major institutional aims Flinders aims to be:

known locally, nationally and internationally as a research university recognised for our leadership position in higher education through establishing courses that are distinctive and relevant, and which meet national and international quality standards acknowledged by students, graduates, employers, industry, the Australian Indigenous community, the public and our peers for excellence and innovation in teaching and in research recognised nationally and internationally as an active contributor in the global higher education network acknowledged as leading our peers in commitment and practice and in relation to equity, equal opportunity, and human relations, and for promoting the success and well-being of our students, our staff and our community a leader in the community, recognised for engaging and working with external communities and organisations to create significant mutual benefits a medium-sized university, with continued planned growth in activities and income. Our history

Flinders University takes its name from English navigator Matthew Flinders, who explored and surveyed the southern Australian coastline in 1802. Its crest includes a reproduction of Flinders’ ship ‘Investigator’ and an extract from his book A Voyage to Terra Australia.

Flinders University was created in 1966, at a time when new universities were being established across Australia as part of a major expansion of university education. This gave opportunities for access to people from a broader range of backgrounds than had attended universities in the past. It also helped to meet Australia’s need for an increasing number of highly trained and skilled personnel in a period of industrial development and economic growth.

Flinders University was formally opened on 25 March 1966 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the late Queen Mother, and the Chancellor Sir Mark Mitchell.

From the beginning, Flinders was set up to be different and to be non-traditional. Emeritus Professor Peter Karmel AC KBE, who was the founding Vice-Chancellor and served from 1966-1971, said ‘It produced a lively institution with young, enthusiastic leaders who were already quite distinguished in their careers’.

Growth over forty years In 1966, Flinders had 90 staff and 400 students enrolled in less than 10 courses. In 2007, Flinders has around 1 500 staff, 16 000 students, almost 300 courses, and over 55 000 Alumni. Flinders now has over 3 000 international students from more than 85 countries (there were no international students in 1966).

In 2006, when Flinders celebrated its first 40 years, among the current staff there were 10 who had started working at Flinders in the 1960s.

Quality of education Flinders has built a strong reputation for quality and innovation in its courses and in its teaching. It was the first university in the world to have a bachelor course in nanotechnology, and the first in Australia to offer a graduate entry medical course. Flinders staff have received a number of national awards for teaching excellence, including the Prime Minister’s Award for University Teacher of the Year in 2004 and 2006.

Focus on research Throughout its history, Flinders University has had a focus and an emphasis on research. Some excellent early appointments were made, especially to professors who built their international reputations along with that of the University.

Quickly, Flinders became a strong research performer in Australia relative to its size. It has been consistently ranked ninth among Australian universities by the Melbourne Institute in its well-regarded national research rankings, and is generally placed in the top ten in Australia in international rankings, such as those produced by Shanghai Jiaotong University.

As part of the University’s continuing commitment to research, Flinders has designated 17 areas of research focus in recent years and has invested heavily in them.

The University continues to perform well in research, having earned more than $300M in external research grants over the last ten years, in current value, including $180M from contracts with industry and government departments. In 2006, we earned around $37M in external research grants.

Our buildings The Flinders University campus is built on land whose traditional owners are the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains.

In 1966 the campus was 370 acres (150 hectares) of open but hilly land. The first 10 years was a busy period of building construction and the University has continued to grow in each decade since.

In 1991 the Sturt campus of the South Australian College of Advanced Education (originally the Bedford Park Teachers College), located next to the University became part of Flinders University. Between 1992 and 1996, several new buildings were added (Information Science and Technology, Engineering and Law/Commerce), the Library was extended, and a new Yunggorendi Mande was opened to house the Indigenous Higher Education Centre.

The Australian Science and Mathematics School, the result of a partnership between Flinders University and the South Australian Government, and located on the campus, opened in 2003. In 2004 student accommodation on campus was expanded with the creation of the Deirdre Jordan Student Village.

Flinders is currently in another period of major capital development. Two new buildings together costing $45m are under construction and due for completion in mid 2008. One is a building next to the Law/Commerce building for the School of Education which will move from Sturt and the other is a Health Sciences building, which will accommodate a number of departments from the School of Medicine. The Faculty of Science and Engineering will have a dedicated first year teaching facility and University’s Sports and Fitness Centre will have a purpose-built extension, also to be completed by 2008.

Vice-Chancellors Flinders has been served by six Vice-Chancellors:

Professor Peter Karmel (1966-1971) Professor Roger Russell (1972-1979) Professor Keith Hancock (1980-1987) Professor John Lovering (1987-1994) Professor Ian Chubb (1995-2000) Professor Anne Edwards (since 2001).

Our facts and figures Flinders University was established in 1966 and takes its name from British navigator Matthew Flinders, who explored and surveyed the South Australian coastline in 1802.

Campus Adelaide campus : Bedford Park, Adelaide, South Australia Regional and interstate locations : Port Lincoln, Renmark, Mt Gambier, Warrnambool (Victoria), Darwin and Alice Springs (Northern Territory).

Students Student statistics - Persons (i)

2006 (ii) 

Total students

15 923 

Australian students (iii)

12 664 

International students

3 259 

Enrolments (iv)

2006 (ii)

Total student enrolments

17 051

Enrolments by level of program (iv)

2006 (ii)

Higher Degree Research


Higher Degree Coursework

2 536

Postgraduate Other

1 135


11 753



Domestic and International enrolments (iv)

2006 (ii)


13 672

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students


International (On-Shore Campus)

2 027

International (Off-Shore Campus)

1 352

International Total

3 379

Staff By Staff Type





1 064

(i) A student with multiple enrolments is only counted ONCE

(ii) Official DEST Census Collection 31 August 2006, subject to revision (revised 12/04/07)

(iii) Includes Australian Citizens, New Zealand Citizens and Permanent Residents

(iv) Enrolment figures will count a student for each course in which they are enrolled..