Flinders University

Flinders University
Latin: Universitas Flinderiana
Former name
The Flinders University of South Australia
Fearless (English)
TypePublic research university
Established1 July 1966; 57 years ago (1966-07-01)
Academic affiliation
EndowmentA$893.43 million (2022)
BudgetA$516.79 million (2022)
ChancellorJohn Hood
Vice-ChancellorProf Colin J Stirling
Academic staff
907 (FTE, 2022)
Administrative staff
1,147 (FTE, 2022)
Total staff
2,882 regular (2022)
4,142 casual (2022)
Students25,247 (2022)
Sturt Road
, , ,
CampusSuburban, parkland and regional, 156 hectares (1.6 km2) (Bedford Park campus)
Named afterCaptain Matthew Flinders
ColoursFlinders Gold and midnight blue
Sporting affiliations
MascotTrim the Cat

Flinders University is a public research university based in Adelaide, South Australia, with a footprint extending across 11 locations in South Australia and the Northern Territory. Founded in 1966, it was named in honour of British navigator Matthew Flinders, who explored and surveyed the Australian and South Australian coastline in the early 19th century.

Flinders' main campus at Bedford Park in Adelaide's south is set upon 156 acres of gardens and native bushland, making it a verdant university. Other campuses include Tonsley, Adelaide Central Business District, Renmark, Alice Springs, and Darwin. It is a member of the Innovative Research Universities (IRU) Group.

Flinders University led the nation in postgraduate employment outcomes according to the 2021 Graduate Outcome Survey - Longitudinal, released by the Australian Government's Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching.


Origins and construction

By the late 1950s, the University of Adelaide's North Terrace campus was approaching capacity. In 1960, Premier Thomas Playford announced that 150 hectares (370 acres) of state government-owned land in Burbank (now Bedford Park) would be allocated to the University of Adelaide for the establishment of a second campus.

Planning began in 1961. The principal-designate of the new campus, economist and professor Peter Karmel, was adamant that the new campus should operate independently from the North Terrace campus. He hoped that the Bedford Park campus would be free to innovate and not be bound by tradition.

Capital works began in 1962 with a grant of £3.8 million from the Australian Universities Commission. Architect Geoff Harrison, in conjunction with architectural firm Hassell, McConnell and Partners, designed a new university that, with future expansions, could eventually accommodate up to 6000 students.

Independence and opening

In 1965, the Australian Labor Party won the state election and Frank Walsh became premier. The ALP wished to break up the University of Adelaide's hegemony over tertiary education in the state, and announced that they intended the Bedford Park campus to be an independent institution.

On 17 March 1966, a bill was passed by state parliament officially creating the Flinders University of South Australia. Although the Labor Party had favoured the name "University of South Australia", academic staff wished that the university be named after a "distinguished but uncontroversial" person. They settled upon British navigator Matthew Flinders, who explored and surveyed the South Australian coastline in 1802. Its original coat of arms, designed by a professor in the Fine Arts faculty, included a reproduction of Flinders' ship Investigator and his journal A Voyage to Terra Australis, open to the page in which Flinders described the coast adjacent the campus site.

Flinders University was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, on 25 March 1966. Peter Karmel was the first Vice-Chancellor and Sir Mark Mitchell the first Chancellor. The university commenced teaching on 7 March 1966 with a student enrolment of 400.

A significant early initiative was the decision to build the Flinders Medical Centre on land adjacent to the campus and to base the university's Medical School within this new public hospital – the first such integration in Australia. Flinders accepted undergraduate medical students in 1974, with the FMC opening the following year.

Expansion and restructuring

View of Flinders University main campus, with central plaza and lakeside area visible.

In 1990, the biggest building project on campus since the mid-1970s saw work commence on three new buildings – Law and Commerce; Engineering; and Information Science and Technology. Approval for the establishment of a School of Engineering was given in 1991 and degrees in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering were established shortly afterwards.

In 1991, as part of a restructuring of higher education in South Australia, Flinders merged with the adjacent Sturt Campus of the former South Australian College of Advanced Education.

In 1992 a four-faculty structure was adopted.

In 1998, the Centre for Remote Health, a rural teaching hospital based in Alice Springs, was established jointly with the Northern Territory University (now Charles Darwin University). This was expanded further in 2011 with the establishment of the Northern Territory Medical Program.

Since 2000 the university has established new disciplines in areas including Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and more disciplines of Engineering.

In 2011, the bacteria genus Flindersiella was named after the university after the strain was found on a tree on campus grounds.

In 2015, the university opened a new campus at Tonsley, the former site of the Mitsubishi Motors Australia plant in Southern Adelaide. This campus houses the university's School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics, along with the Medical Device Research Institute, the Centre for Nanoscale Science and Technology (now known as the Flinders Institute for Nanoscale Science & Technology) and Flinders technology start-up company Re-Timer.

In 2016, the university celebrated its 50th anniversary with a calendar of public events, and a publication summarising the highlights of the university's history, research, and alumni achievements over the last 50 years. 2016 also saw the opening of the award-winning student hub and plaza, transforming the central campus.

The university's strategic plan Making a Difference - The 2025 Agenda released in 2016 set an ambitious vision for the coming decade for Flinders to reach the top ten of Australian Universities, and the top one per cent in the world.

On 1 July 2017, the university restructured from a two-tier academic system of four faculties and 14 schools, to a single-tier structure consisting of six colleges.

In 2019 the university announced an additional $100 million investment in research and a further $100 million in education over a five-year period to support it to meet its strategic goals.

The university also in 2019 announced plans for a substantial development on a tract on land on the northern portion of the Bedford Park Campus adjacent to the Flinders hospitals precinct. Known as Flinders Village the decade-long development will deliver research facilities, student accommodation, commercial premises and amenities. The catalyst for the initiative was the extension of the Clovelly Park rail line to the Flinders precinct. The $141m rail line and Flinders Station project began operation in December 2020. Stage one of the Flinders Village development is the construction of a Health and Medical Research Building. Construction began in December 2021 and the building, which will be home to Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute, is scheduled for completion in 2024.

In 2021 the university announced it would be expanding its Central Business District presence, establishing a vertical campus as the anchor tenant in Festival Tower, a major development scheduled for completion in 2024 adjacent to Parliament House and the Adelaide Railway Station on North Terrace.

In 2022, the newly elected state Labor government led by Peter Malinauskas proposed setting up a commission to investigate the possibility of a merger of South Australia's three public universities UniSA, University of Adelaide and Flinders University. The University of Adelaide and University of South Australia have indicated their intention to merge. Flinders University chose to remain an independent entity.


The university's main campus is in the Adelaide inner southern suburb of Bedford Park, about 12 km south of the Adelaide city centre. The university also has a presence in Victoria Square in the centre of the city, and Tonsley. It also maintains a number of external teaching facilities in regional South Australia, south-west Victoria and the Northern Territory. As of 2020 international students made up 19.5% of the on-campus student population and a number of offshore programmes are also offered, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region.

The university also has two buildings in the Adelaide city centre; one of them will be completed in 2024. One building is in Victoria square and the other building is on North Terrace next to the Parliament House.


View of the courtyard of the Humanities building of the Flinders University.

Flinders University offers more than 160 undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as higher degree research supervision across all disciplines. Many courses use new information and communication technologies to supplement face-to-face teaching and provide flexible options.


  • College of Business, Government and Law
  • College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
  • College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
  • College of Medicine and Public Health
  • College of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • College of Science and Engineering


Sir Eric Neal, Chancellor of Flinders University (2002–2010)
Sir Eric Neal, Chancellor of Flinders University (2002–2010)
Prof. Colin Stirling, Vice Chancellor (2015–present)
Prof. Colin Stirling, Vice Chancellor (2015–present)

Flinders University has been served by seven Chancellors and eight Vice Chancellors since its establishment in 1966. They are:

Name Years Position
Peter Karmel AC CBE 1966–1971 Vice Chancellor
Sir Mark Mitchell 1966–1971 Chancellor
Sir Charles Hart Bright 1971–1983 Chancellor
Roger Russell 1972–1979 Vice Chancellor
Keith Hancock AO 1980–1987 Vice Chancellor
Francis Robert Fisher AO 1983–1988 Chancellor
John Francis Lovering AO 1987–1994 Vice Chancellor
Deirdre Frances Jordan AC 1988–2002 Chancellor
Ian Chubb AC 1995–2000 Vice Chancellor
Anne Edwards AO 2001–2007 Vice Chancellor
Sir Eric Neal 2002–2010 Chancellor
Michael Barber AO 2008–2014 Vice Chancellor
Stephen Gerlach AM 2010–2023 Chancellor
Colin Stirling 2015–present Vice Chancellor
John Hood 2023–present Chancellor


Academic profile


University rankings
Global rankings
THE251–300 (266)
U.S. News & World Report435
Australian rankings
U.S. News & World Report24

Flinders University is amongst the world's top 300 institutions at 266 according to the 2022 Times Higher Education rankings.

Student life

Student Union

Flinders University Students Association (FUSA) is a student union, formerly Student Association of Flinders University (SAFU).


Flinders has two options regarding on-campus accommodation:

  • University Hall (catered)
  • Deirdre Jordan Village (self-catered).

For off-campus accommodation, Flinders Housing run a free, up-to-date accommodation service which lists private accommodation available on the rental market.


Empire Times was published by the Students' Association of Flinders University (SAFU) from 1969 to 2006. The founder and first editor of the newspaper was Martin Fabinyi, and the newspaper was originally printed in the back of his house by fellow student Rod Boswell. Empire Times had a history of controversial humour and anti-establishment discussion. Notable former editors and contributors included Martin Armiger and Greig (HG Nelson) Pickhaver, Steph Key and Kate Ellis. Empire Times ceased publication in 2006 as a result of voluntary student unionism, but resumed in 2013.


Flinders University has many sports teams that compete in social and competitive competitions.

Flinders University has 22 affiliated sporting clubs including Aikido, Athletics, Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Cricket, Fencing, Football, Hockey, Judo, Kendo, Korfball, Lacrosse, Men's Soccer, Muay Thai, Netball, Squash & Racquetball, Table Tennis, Ultimate Frisbee, Underwater, Volleyball and Women's Soccer.

Additionally, Flinders University students have the capacity to go away to annual university games events and compete in a range of sports while representing the university.

Notable people








Flinders has produced one Australian of the Year in Richard Harris, one Fields Medalist in Terry Tao, five Rhodes scholars. and 26 Fulbright scholars.

See also

This page was last updated at 2024-02-05 23:39 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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