University of Western Australia
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University of Western Australia

The University of Western Australia
UWA crest.svg
Latin: Universitas Australia Occidentalis
Motto"Seek wisdom"
TypePublic research university
Established1911; 110 years ago (1911)
ChancellorRobert French [1]
Amit Chakma
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,

31°58?49?S 115°49?7?E / 31.98028°S 115.81861°E / -31.98028; 115.81861 (University of Western Australia)Coordinates: 31°58?49?S 115°49?7?E / 31.98028°S 115.81861°E / -31.98028; 115.81861 (University of Western Australia)
AffiliationsGo8, ASAIHL, WUN, MNU
MascotLaurence the Peacock
The University of Western Australia logo.svg

The University of Western Australia (UWA) is a public research university in the Australian state of Western Australia. The university's main campus is in Perth, the state capital, with a secondary campus in Albany and various other facilities elsewhere.

UWA was established in 1911 by an act of the Parliament of Western Australia and began teaching students two years later.[2] It is the sixth-oldest university in Australia and was Western Australia's only university until the establishment of Murdoch University in 1973. Because of its age and reputation, UWA is classed one of the "sandstone universities", an informal designation given to the oldest university in each state. The university also belongs to several more formal groupings, including the Group of Eight and the Matariki Network of Universities. In recent years, UWA has generally been ranked either in the bottom half or just outside the world's top 100 universities, depending on the system used.

Alumni of UWA include one Prime Minister of Australia (Bob Hawke), five Justices of the High Court of Australia (including one Chief Justice, Robert French, now Chancellor), one Governor of the Reserve Bank (H. C. Coombs), various federal cabinet ministers, and seven of Western Australia's eight most recent premiers. In 2018 alumnus mathematician Akshay Venkatesh was a recipient of the Fields Medal. As at 2021, the university had produced 106 Rhodes Scholars.[3] Two members of the UWA faculty, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren won Nobel Prizes as a result of research at the university.


Winthrop Hall, the most prominent landmark on the main UWA campus

The university was established in 1911 following the tabling of proposals by a royal commission in September 1910.[4] The original campus, which received its first students in March 1913, was located on Irwin Street in the centre of Perth, and consisted of several buildings situated between Hay Street and St Georges Terrace. Irwin Street was also known as "Tin Pan Alley" as many buildings featured corrugated iron roofs. These buildings served as the university campus until 1932, when the campus relocated to its present-day site in Crawley.[5]

The founding chancellor, Sir John Winthrop Hackett, died in 1916, and bequeathed property which, after being carefully managed for ten years, yielded £425,000 to the university, a far larger sum than expected. This allowed the construction of the main buildings. Many buildings and landmarks within the university bear his name, including Winthrop Hall and Hackett Hall. In addition, his bequest funded many scholarships, because he did not wish eager students to be deterred from studying because they could not afford to do so.

During UWA's first decade there was controversy about whether the policy of free education was compatible with high expenditure on professorial chairs and faculties. An "old student" publicised his concern in 1921 that there were 13 faculties serving only 280 students.[6]

A remnant of the original buildings survives to this day in the form of the "Irwin Street Building",[7] so called after its former location. In the 1930s it was transported to the new campus and served a number of uses till its 1987 restoration, after which it was moved across campus to James Oval. Recently, the building has served as the Senate meeting room and is currently in use as a cricket pavilion and office of the university archives. The building has been heritage-listed by both the National Trust and the Australian Heritage Council.

The university introduced the Doctorate of Philosophy degree in 1946 and made its first award in October 1950 to Warwick Bottomley for his research of the chemistry of native plants in Western Australia.[8]


Official nameHackett Memorial Buildings
TypeState Registered Place
Designated4 April 1996
Reference no.3519
Official namePark Avenue Building
TypeState Registered Place
Designated28 June 1996
Reference no.3545
Official nameSunken Garden
TypeState Registered Place
Designated28 June 1996
Reference no.19952

UWA is one of the largest landowners in Perth as a result of government and private bequests, and is constantly expanding its infrastructure. Recent developments include the $22 million University Club, opened in June 2005, and the UWA Watersports Complex, opened in August 2005. In September 2005 UWA opened its $64 million Molecular and Chemical Sciences building. In May 2008, a $31 million Business School building opened. In August 2014 a $9 million new CO2 research facility was completed, providing modern facilities for carbon research. The Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre, a $62 million research facility on campus, was completed in October 2016.[9][10]

Arts and cultural facilities

Limestone arches are a prominent feature along the older undercover walkways

The 65-hectare (160-acre) Crawley campus sits on the Swan River, about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) west of the Perth central business district. Many of the buildings are coastal limestone and Donnybrook sandstone, including the large and iconic Winthrop Hall[11] with its Romanesque Revival architecture.

The Arts Faculty building (first occupied in 1964) encompasses the New Fortune Theatre.[12] This open-air venue was built to celebrate Shakespeare's 400th anniversary, at the time the only replica in the world of the original Elizabethan Fortune Theatre, and used for 1964 Perth Festival performances.[13] Since then it has hosted regular performances of Shakespeare's plays co-produced by the Graduate Dramatic Society.[14] and the University Dramatic Society.[15] The venue is also home to a family of peafowl donated to the University by the Perth Zoo in 1975 after a gift by Sir Laurence Brodie-Hall.[16]

The cultural precinct of the university[17] is located in the northern part of the Crawley campus. Other performance venues include the Octagon and Dolphin Theatres and Somerville Auditorium, the Winthrop Hall, Sunken Garden, Undercroft and Tropical Grove, which play host to a range of theatre and musical performances, including during the Perth Festival.[18]

The UWA Conservatorium of Music hosts many concerts each year by students and visiting artists, including series of free lunchtime concerts.[19]

The Berndt Museum of Anthropology, located in the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery (formerly on the ground floor of the Social Sciences Building), contains one of the most significant collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural material in the world. Its Asian and Melanesian collections are also of strong interest. It was established in 1976 by Ronald and Catherine Berndt.[20]


Reid Library

The University of Western Australia features five libraries on campus, including the architecturally recognised Reid Library building, the largest library on campus.[21] The other libraries are the Barry J Marshall Library (Biological and Physical Sciences, Mathematics, Psychology and Geography); the J Robin Warren Library (Medical and Dental); the Beasley Law Library; and the Education, Fine Arts and Architecture Library.[21]

Residential colleges

Residential colleges and additional student residential buildings located close to the campus include University Hall (formerly known as Currie Hall), St George's College, St Catherine's College, Trinity Residential College and St Thomas More College. St Catherine's College also offers short stays for non-student visitors.

The colleges border each other and run along the main campus. Students of The University of Western Australia refer to the location of the college, which run along a common road, as "college row." All the colleges are co-ed and host several inter-college events throughout the year, in which residents of the various hostels get to compete against one another in a selection of events. Notable inter-college events include lip dub,[22] in which the colleges compete against one another in a series of lip dub videos, as well as battle of the bands.[23]

Some of the residential colleges have their own mascots as well. St Catherine's mascot being a cat,[24] St George's a dragon[25] and St Thomas More's a rooster.[26]

Students along college row tend to have short names for each of the colleges and nicknames for the hostels have become a part of the resident culture. St Catherine's College being known as "St Cat's", St Thomas More College nicknamed "Tommy More", St George's College being known as "George's", University Hall referred to as "Uni Hall" and Trinity Residential College known as "Trin".

Offsite locations

UWA Centre Albany

The university established a UWA Albany Centre in 1999 to meet rural education needs. In 2005, Curtin University of Technology joined UWA in Albany to provide additional course offerings to the local rural community. UWA Albany offers postgraduate coursework and research programmes through the Institute for Regional Development and the Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management. The UWA Rural Clinical School provides year-long rural placements for third-year medical students in Albany, Derby, Broome, Port Hedland, Karratha, Geraldton, Bunbury, Narrogin, Esperance, and Kalgoorlie; Western Australia. Additionally, the University is involved in the Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health in Geraldton.

The university has further facilities across Stirling Highway in Nedlands, linked by pedestrian underpasses beneath the highway, and paths in front of the residential colleges. Although not directly contiguous with the main Crawley site, the university does own almost every parcel of land between them and has long-term plans to expand the two sites towards each other. The university also has facilities in Claremont, purchased in 2005 from Edith Cowan University. The university prefers to refer to these facilities as "UWA Claremont" and not as a campus. The university remains a single campus institution.[27] UWA Claremont is approximately 5 km west of the main Crawley campus. Further west still, the University also has staff in central Claremont.

Overseas, the university has strategic partnerships with institutions in Malaysia and Singapore, where students study for The University of Western Australia qualifications, but does not operate these foreign institutions directly.

The university has also developed a relationship with Australian Doctors for Africa with whom it sends academic staff to conduct medical student teaching in Somalia, Madagascar, and Ethiopia. There are two to four visits to each location per year.


Irwin Street Building

The University's degree structure changed in 2012 to bring together the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees available. Justification for this new system is due to its simplicity and effectiveness in outsiders understanding the system. It is the first university in Western Australia to have this new system. Students entering the University at an undergraduate level must choose a three-year bachelor's degree. The university offers a Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Biomedical Science (BBiomedSc). As of 2017, Bachelor of Design (BDes) was no longer offered to non first-year students.[28]

Bachelor of Philosophy

The university also offers the Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil) course for high-achieving new students. This is a research intensive degree which takes four years because the honours year is an integral part of the degree (most other degrees last three years with the honours year as a separate degree). Students studying the course choose disciplines from any of the four bachelor's degrees. Places are very limited with on average only about 30 places offered to students each year. Thus there is a lot of competition for places and the cut-off admission rank is very high.[29]

Assured entry pathways

High school graduates with high academic achievement are able to apply for "assured pathways". This means they are assured a place in the postgraduate degree for their chosen discipline while they complete their undergraduate degree. Assured pathways are offered for studies in fields such as medicine, law, dentistry and engineering.[30] Prospective students may apply for an assured pathway through the Bachelor of Philosophy. The assured pathways to Dentistry via the Bachelor of Philosophy is the most difficult undergraduate and postgraduate pathway to obtain from the University. Only one place is offered each year.

Postgraduate courses

Postgraduate study is offered in previous-study-related disciplines and in professional disciplines that do not require previous tertiary study in that area, such as medicine, law and dentistry. Masters, PhDs, other doctorates, and other postgraduate coursework are offered to students who meet the academic requirements for undergraduate degrees in the same study area. Examples of this include postgraduate degrees in engineering, computer science and information technology, architecture, and research degrees and doctorates in biology.

Students from other universities may transfer to UWA based on their GPA to undertake postgraduate study. Occasionally, undergraduate students may transfer to the university, based also on their GPA, to complete the degree they have already begun at another tertiary institution.


UWA's student body is generally dominated by school-leavers from within Western Australia, mostly from the Perth metropolitan area. There are comparatively smaller numbers of mature-age students. In recent years, numbers of full-fee-paying foreign students, predominantly from South East Asia, have grown as a proportion of the student population. In 2020, the university had 4,373 international student enrolments in a total student body of 18,717.[31]

The foyer of the multimillion-dollar Chemical and Molecular Sciences building, featuring the "double helix staircase"

Academic profile

The University recently attracted more competitive research funding than any other Western Australian university.[32] Annually the University receives in excess of $71 million of external research income, expends over $117 million on research and graduates over 300 higher degree by research students, mostly doctorates.[33]

The University has over 80 research institutes and centres, including the Oceans Institute, the Centre for Energy, the Energy and Minerals Institute and the Centre for Software Practice.[34] In 2008, it collaborated with two other universities in forming The Centre for Social Impact.

The Zadko Telescope is a one-metre modified Ritchey-Chrétien telescope (F/4 equatorially mounted flat field) used for astronomy research at UWA. The telescope is co-located with the UWA's Gravity Discovery Centre and Southern Cross Cosmos Centre 70 km north of Perth on Wallingup Plain near the town of Gingin. Its operation is harmonised with detection of major supernova events by some of the European Union's satellites. A local businessman, James Zadko, and his family contributed funds for the telescope.[35]

The University also received funding from the State Government for The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research. The Centre is a multi-disciplinary research centre for science, engineering and data intensive astronomy.[36] UWA drove Australia's bid to be the site of the Square Kilometre Array, a very large internationally funded radio astronomy installation capable of seeing the early stages of the formation of galaxies, stars and planets.[37]

The University is one of the partners in the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study, one of the largest cohorts of pregnancy, childhood, adolescence and early adulthood to be carried out anywhere in the world.[38]


University rankings
University of Western Australia
QS World[39]93
THE World[40]139
ARWU World[41]85
US News World[42]79
CWTS Leiden World[43]176
Australian rankings
QS National[39]7
THE National[44]8
ARWU National[45]6
US News National[46]8
CWTS Leiden National[43]6
ERA National[47]9

UWA is highly ranked according to the Melbourne Institute Index ranking of Australian universities. UWA has been ranked as having some of the highest quality undergraduates of any university in Australia and is ranked second in Australia for the quality of its undergraduate programs.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) produced by Shanghai Jiao Tong University has consistently placed UWA as the joint best university in Australia (along with the University of Queensland) in the fields of clinical medicine and pharmacy.[48] The ARWU has also ranked UWA as the best university in Australia for life and agricultural sciences, coming in at 25th position in the world as of 2015.[49]

Student life

The Reflection Pool was largely built by the labour of student volunteers

The University of Western Australia Student Guild is the premier student representative body on campus. It is affiliated with the National Union of Students. The vision of the UWA Student Guild is to be inclusive and representative of the student community and to provide relevant, high quality services to its members, whilst remaining environmentally and socially conscious.[50]

The Postgraduate Students' Association is the representative body for postgraduate students at UWA and is a department of the UWA guild.

The Guild provides a variety of services from catering to financial counselling. There are also over 100 clubs and societies funded by and affiliated with the Guild. The Guild publishes the student newspaper, the Pelican, as well as several other publications and is home to the Prosh charity event newspaper.[51]


UWA has had a publishing arm since 1935, when the University was the sole tertiary campus in Western Australia. In 2009 it was renamed as UWA Publishing.

Notable people

Many notable UWA alumni have excelled in various professions, in particular in politics and government. Premiers of Western Australia have included graduates Alan Carpenter, Colin Barnett, Geoff Gallop, Richard Court and Carmen Lawrence. Former federal ministers include Kim Edward Beazley, his son, former deputy prime minister Kim Beazley, and Australia's 23rd prime minister, Bob Hawke. The former Chief Justice of the Australian High Court, Robert French is also a graduate of the UWA Law School. Scientific and medical alumni include Nobel prize laureate Barry Marshall, the Australian of the Year for 2003 Fiona Stanley and the Australian of the Year for 2005 Fiona Wood. The former CEO of Ansett Airlines and British Airways, Sir Rod Eddington, is a graduate of the UWA School of Engineering. Alumni with outstanding sporting achievements include former Kookaburras (hockey) captain and Hockeyroos coach Ric Charlesworth. British-born Australian comedian Tim Minchin also attended The University of Western Australia.

Mining magnate Andrew Forrest and Richard Goyder are graduates of UWA.

Current staff of note include clinical psychologist David Indermaur (also an alumnus of the university), prominent osteoclast and osteoblast expert Dr. Jiake Xu,[52] renowned haematologist and 1982 Rhodes Scholar Dr Wendy Erber,[53] 2009 Western Australian Scientist of the year Cheryl Praeger and former Labor federal minister Stephen Smith.


See also


  1. ^ "UWA Welcomes 15th Chancellor". University of Western Australia. Archived from the original on 2 February 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ "WALW - University of Western Australia Act 1911 - Home Page". Retrieved 2021.
  3. ^ The University of Western Australia. "Western Australian Rhodes Scholars". Retrieved 2021.
  4. ^ A University for Western Australia The West Australian, 15 September 1910, at Trove
  5. ^ Twenty Years History: Genesis of the University The West Australian, 13 April 1932, at Trove
  6. ^ The University (Letter to the Editor) The West Australian, 2 December 1921, at Trove
  7. ^ "The University of Western Australia Centenary celebrations". Archived from the original on 12 May 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  8. ^ "High Degree Awarded". Kalgoorlie Miner (WA : 1895-1950). Western Australia. 18 October 1950. p. 5. Retrieved 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ "Current projects". Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ "Completed projects". Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 2017.
  11. ^ "Winthrop Hall". Archived from the original on 19 July 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  12. ^ "University Theatres: New Fortune Theatre". Archived from the original on 30 April 2006. Retrieved 2014.
  13. ^ "Matters of Public Interest: Festival of Perth". Parliament of Australia. 12 April 2000. Retrieved 2020.
  14. ^ "Graduate Dramatic Society: Past Productions". Archived from the original on 28 July 2014.
  15. ^ University Dramatic Society Archived 14 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "The Arts Peacocks". 21 February 2011. Archived from the original on 14 September 2009. Retrieved 2011.
  17. ^ "Cultural Precinct: Cultural Precinct: The University of Western Australia". Archived from the original on 4 February 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  18. ^ Theatres, University (14 May 2020). "Home". UWA. Retrieved 2020.
  19. ^ "Listing". Scoop. 30 July 2018. Retrieved 2020.
  20. ^ "About us : Cultural Precinct : The University of Western Australia". 21 December 2016. Retrieved 2021.
  21. ^ a b "University Library Spaces". UWA. Retrieved 2021.
  22. ^ St Catherine's College - Lip Dub 2018. St Catherine's College. 18 May 2018. Archived from the original on 16 February 2020. Retrieved 2021 – via YouTube.
  23. ^ Tommy Band 2015. Tommy More. 7 August 2015. Archived from the original on 15 April 2020. Retrieved 2021 – via YouTube.
  24. ^ "St Catherine's College, UWA -- College Living at UWA -- UWA Student Accommodation -- UWA Residential College -- UWA Housing". St Catherine's College, UWA. Retrieved 2020.
  25. ^ "Chapel". St George's College. Retrieved 2020.
  26. ^ "St Thomas More College - A Residential College within the University of Western Australia". Retrieved 2020.
  27. ^ "Campus Planning Review 2000". Archived from the original on 8 July 2014. Retrieved 2011.
  28. ^ "Handbook 2018". University of Western Australia. 2018. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  29. ^ "Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours)". 16 December 2014. Archived from the original on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  30. ^ "Assured entry to professional courses for school leavers". 16 December 2014. Archived from the original on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  31. ^ "Annual report: The University of Western Australia". 4 April 2016. Retrieved 2021.
  32. ^ "UWA wins big share of national research funding". 6 November 2012. Archived from the original on 18 May 2013. Retrieved 2012.
  33. ^ "Free Tuition Scholarships In Australia You Don't Want To Miss 2016". Archived from the original on 5 October 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  34. ^ "Research Institutes and Centres at UWA". 17 June 2014. Archived from the original on 15 July 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  35. ^ The University of Western Australia. "Zadko Telescope". Retrieved 2021.
  36. ^ "The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research". ICRAR. Retrieved 2021.
  37. ^ "UWA to house international radio astronomy research centre". 15 December 2008. Archived from the original on 12 April 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  38. ^ "Long may kids' health study Raine | Health+Medicine". Archived from the original on 27 December 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  39. ^ a b "QS World University Rankings 2022". Quacquarelli Symonds Limited.
  40. ^ "World University Rankings 2021". Times Higher Education.
  41. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2021". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.
  42. ^ "U.S. News and World Report Best Global Universities Rankings". U.S. News and World Report.
  43. ^ a b "CWTS Leiden Ranking 2020". Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University.
  44. ^ "THE 2021 - Australia". Times Higher Education.
  45. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2021". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.
  46. ^ "U.S. News and World Report Best Global Universities in Australia". U.S. News and World Report.
  47. ^ "Australian University Rankings". Australian Education Network.
  48. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities in Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy - 2013". Academic Rankings of World Universities. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  49. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities in Life and Agriculture sciences". Academic Rankings of World Universities. Archived from the original on 16 August 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  50. ^ "UWA Student Guild Future Directions" (PDF). 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  51. ^ "Affiliated Clubs and Societies". UWA Student Guild. Archived from the original on 4 June 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  52. ^ [1]
  53. ^

Further reading

External links

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