Significant milestones in Western Sydney University’s history

30,000 years of human habitation on the Cumberland Plain. Westmead, Rydalmere and most of what is now Blacktown was occupied by the Darug people prior to European arrival.

With respect for Aboriginal cultural protocol and out of recognition that its campuses occupy their traditional lands, Western Sydney University acknowledges the Darug, Tharawal (also historically referred to as Dharawal), Gandangarra and Wiradjuri peoples and thanks them for their support of its work in their lands (Greater Western Sydney and beyond).


Photo Credit: View of the Female Orphan School, Near Parramatta by Joseph Lycett, 1825 (State Library of Victoria 30328102131561/13)


The foundation stone of the Female Orphan School, Parramatta was laid, which opened in 1818.

Earliest estimated date for construction of Frogmore House. 

Photo Credit: Rydalmere Psychiatric Hospital, around 1890. (State Records NSW, NRS 5598)

The site of the Female Orphan School became the Rydalmere Hospital for the Insane (later known as the Rydalmere Mental Hospital and finally as Rydalmere Psychiatric Hospital) and operated until 1989.

Hawkesbury Agricultural College (HAC) founded in ‘Toxana’, Richmond.


Captain FL George first commanding officer HMAS Nirimba.


Former HMS Nabstock, and immigration settlement site at Blacktown, becomes HMAS Nirimba.

HAC becomes a non-corporate College of Advanced Education (CAE).

In the ALP federal election platform, E. G. Whitlam projects new teachers and Technical Colleges for Western Sydney, and a new University. Whitlam Government is elected.

Kingswood and Westmead CAEs merge to form Nepean CAE.

Milperra CAE announced. $100,000 provided to NSW Government from the Whitlam Government for exploratory work in the foundation of the south-western University.

Milperra and Campbelltown campuses of Milperra CAE join to become ‘Macarthur Institute of Higher Education’.

NSW Premier Neville Wran and NSW Education Minister Rodney Cavalier establish the Ministerial Committee to Review the Structure of Higher Education in Western Sydney (‘First Parry Report’).

NSW Premier Barry Unsworth and Prime Minister Bob Hawke announce Chifley University as a University College based at Werrington.

University of Sydney staff work on academic development through ‘Chifley University College’, while Chifley University Interim Council (CUIC) staff work on site development and planning.

Ralph Rawlinson appointed as Planning Vice-Chancellor.

Main Local Government Areas (Penrith, Parramatta, Blacktown, Liverpool) launch campaigns for the location of a university campus in their area.

Architects Impressions of Chifley University, c.1988.

Chifley University Interim Council (CUIC) ‘frozen’, and the CEOs of
Nepean CAE, Hawkesbury Agricultural College and the University of Sydney form a negotiating committee to come to a ‘Heads of Agreement’. 

Dissolution of CUIC and plan for ‘a first-class, multi-campus university in Western Sydney’. A Western Sydney university will not be named after a political figure. 

1 January 1989:
The University of Western Sydney Act (1988) brings the university into being. The University initially was created with two members – UWS Hawkesbury and UWS Nepean.

The colour blue represented the Blue Mountains.

Sir Ian Turbott inducted as foundation Chancellor and Professor Brian Smith as foundation Vice-Chancellor.

Late 1989:
UWS Macarthur becomes the third member of the University of Western Sydney Federation.

Student numbers pass 10,000.

Professor Deryck Schreuder takes office as second Vice-Chancellor.

New Parramatta campus announced, to occupy site of former Rydalmere Psychiatric Hospital.

University of Western Sydney Act 1997 institutes restructure of the University to three non-corporate Members.

Professor Janice Reid takes up the role of third Vice-Chancellor.

Reid produces ‘Fork in the Road’ statement about the need for unification of the Federated Members into a more efficient, singular organisation.


University of Western Sydney Amendment Act 2000 abolishes ‘university members’.

John Phillips AO announced as second Chancellor.

Deed of Gift of Gough Whitlam materials to establish the Whitlam Institute within the University, including the original Dismissal Letter.

First intake of medical students to the University’s School of Medicine. School of Medicine is led by Foundation Dean, Professor Neville Yeomans.

Official opening of the $47.5 million School of Medicine building by Federal Education Minister and Acting Prime Minister, the Hon. Julia Gillard, at the Campbelltown Campus.

Professor Peter Shergold AC installed as third Chancellor.  

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Health Minister Nicola Roxon officially open the University’s Blacktown/Mt Druitt Clinical School building located at Blacktown Hospital.

$7 million grant from Federal Government to complete the renovation of the historic Female Orphan School.

Professor Barney Glover begins his appointment as fourth Vice-Chancellor.

$30 million John Phillips Library opens at Penrith campus, named in tribute to the University's former Chancellor, the late Mr John Phillips AO.

30 August 2015:
The University launches a new brand and identity that puts Western Sydney first – Western Sydney University.

6 April 2016:
The University has more than 160,000 graduates.

17 May 2017:
$220.5 million Parramatta City campus, the University's first ever vertical campus, opened by New South Wales Premier The Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP.

10 August 2017:
The University joins the Innovative Research Universities (IRU) network.

16 August 2017:
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard officially opens the $21 million Macarthur Clinical School at Campbelltown Hospital.

25 September 2017:
Launch of $30 million Science Building on Parramatta South campus.

1 November 2017:
Australia’s first National Vegetable Protected Cropping Centre launched at Hawkesbury campus.

8 May 2018:
Western Sydney University and Charles Sturt University partner to establish a Joint Medical Program (JMP) across the Murray Darling Basin.

13 June 2018:
The new Liverpool campus is named the Ngara Ngura building and is opened by Prime Minister, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP.

23 July 2018:
The University’s Solar Car Team became the first international and first Australian solar car team to win the American Solar Challenge.

13 September 2018:
A ‘Multiversity’ announced in the heart of the new Western Sydney Aerotropolis with the NUW Alliance (University of Newcastle, UNSW and University of Wollongong).

10 October 2018:
Engineering Innovation Hub, a joint venture between WSU and UNSW in Parramatta announced by New South Wales Premier, The Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP.

28 October 2018:
The University launches its ‘Western Health’ plan, a 20-year vision for health and medical research that addresses the immense health challenges of the region.

14 November 2018:
‘Aunty Mae Foyer’ named at Liverpool campus after Aunty Mae (Mavis) Robinson, the first Aboriginal person to graduate from the School of Education (Milperra College).

5 February 2019:
The University reveals the concept design for its latest high-rise campus in the Bankstown CBD, set to open for teaching in early 2022.

48,500 students enrolled across 10 teaching campuses and more than 190,000 graduates.

THE ranks WSU 1st in the world for gender equality, 2nd for reducing inequalities.