This year, the University of Newcastle (UON) celebrates its 50th anniversary in the Hunter. From modest beginnings with a handful of students using a caravan as a canteen, to multiple campuses and a global student intake of tens of thousands, UON is now a world-renowned educational institution with a reputation for building strong communities through education, research and innovation.
In the Beginning
The people of Newcastle had long been petitioning for a university of their own, and as far back as 1849 William Tyrrell, the first Anglican Bishop, noted that the area would benefit from tertiary educational institutions. Although there were attempts in the intervening years, it wasn’t until 1951 that the idea gained some traction with the establishment of Newcastle University College, which was affiliated with the University of Technology in Sydney (now known as the University of NSW).
As Newcastle University College expanded and the community’s thirst for its own university grew stronger, rallies, protests and freedom marches became commonplace.
On 12 April 1961, a huge ‘freedom day’ march led by legendary classics professor Godfrey Tanner from Tighes Hill to City Hall, increased awareness and local support. It was shortly after this time that moves to build a new campus on land at Shortland gifted to the university by BHP were under way, and the dream of an independent university crept ever closer…
Pictured above: Students during the Graduation parade through Newcastle, 16 April, 2015. Image Matt Hudson. Story: Laura Jackel.