Sandstone universities

The main quadrangle of the University of Sydney, Australia's oldest university

The sandstone universities are an informally defined group comprising Australia's oldest tertiary education institutions.[1] Most were founded in the colonial era, the exceptions being the University of Queensland (1909) and The University of Western Australia (1911). All the universities in the group have buildings constructed primarily of sandstone. Membership of the group is based on age; some universities, such as the private Bond University, have sandstone-plated buildings but are not considered sandstone universities.

The label "sandstone university" is not completely synonymous with membership of the Group of Eight, which includes the Australian National University, Monash University and the University of New South Wales, but not the University of Tasmania. Nevertheless, the connotations (prestige, a focus on research, and curricula that have a strong emphasis on theory rather than practice) are much the same for the two groups. Australian Government survey data of university graduates has indicated in the past that students who enter sandstone universities come from higher income families, and that graduates largely have higher paid occupations or positions of influence, prompting claims of elitism and social division.[2][3]

Constituent institutions

Sandstone universities can be taken to be either universities founded before World War I, or the oldest university in their respective state; either definition gives the same set of universities.

University Location State Established World University Rankings (2015)[4]
QS World (2015/16)[5] ARWU World (2016)


THE World (2015/16)[8] U.S. News (2015/16)[9] CWTS Leiden (2015)[10]
University of Adelaide Adelaide SA 1874 113= 139 149= 184 246
University of Melbourne Melbourne VIC 1853 42 40 33 40 117
University of Queensland Brisbane QLD 1909 46= 55 60= 52 132
University of Sydney Sydney NSW 1850 45 82 56= 51 190
University of Tasmania Hobart TAS 1890 379 294 251-300 366= 346
University of Western Australia Perth WA 1911 98 96 109 128 310

Other Australian university groups

Red brick universities

The University of NSW, Monash University and the Australian National University have been termed 'red brick' universities.[11] They are similar to the red brick universities in the UK, both groups coming after the ancient Universities and sandstone universities.

Verdant (gumtree) universities

Further information: Verdant universities

Universities founded in the 1960s and 70s have been known informally as 'verdant' or 'gumtree' universities.[12] These universities were established in their state capitals, often next to native bush land (now nature reserves), and have lush vegetative campuses. They are predominantly the second or third established university in their state.[13]

See also


  1. Marginson, Simon (29 November 1999). "THE ENTERPRISE UNIVERSITY COMES TO AUSTRALIA" (PDF). Annual conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education.
  2. Department of Education Training and Youth Affairs (1998), The Characteristics and Performance of Higher Education Institutions, Canberra: Higher Education Division, Department of Education, Employment and Youth Affairs
  3. Department of Education Training and Youth Affairs (1999), Completions, Undergraduate academic outcomes for the 1992 commencing students, Melbourne: DETYA.
  4. University Rankings: Australia
  5. "QS World University Rankings 2015/16". Quacquarelli Symonds. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  6. "ARWU World University Rankings 2016". Academic Ranking of World Universities. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  7. "Campus Morning Mail". Retrieved 2016-08-15.
  8. "World University Rankings 2015-16". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  9. "Top World University Rankings | US News Best Global Universities". Retrieved 2016-05-18.
  10. "CWTS Leiden Ranking 2015". Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  11. Gable, Guy (2008). The Information Systems Academic Discipline in Australia. ANU E PRESS. p. 319. ISBN 9781921313943.
  12. "Types of Australian universities". Retrieved 2015-10-09.
  13. The only exception is Macquarie, which is the third university is Sydney, but the fourth university in New South Wales. It follows the University of Sydney (1850), University of New South Wales (1949) and University of New England (1954).


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