Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth, Sir Mark Mitchell

Flinders University takes its name from English navigator Matthew Flinders, who explored and surveyed the southern Australian coastline in 1802. Its crest includes a reproduction of Flinders’ ship ‘Investigator’ and an extract from his book A Voyage to Terra Australia.

Flinders University was created in 1966, at a time when new universities were being established across Australia as part of a major expansion of university education. This gave opportunities for access to people from a broader range of backgrounds than had attended universities in the past. It also helped to meet Australia’s need for an increasing number of highly trained and skilled personnel in a period of industrial development and economic growth.

Flinders University was formally opened on 25 March 1966 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the late Queen Mother, and the Chancellor Sir Mark Mitchell.

Growth over forty years

In 1966, Flinders had 90 staff and 400 students enrolled in less than 10 courses. By 2012, Flinders had around 2,200 staff, 21,500 students (including over 3,600 international students from nearly 100 countries), almost 350 courses, and over 60,000 Alumni. For the latest official figures refer to facts and figures.

Quality of education

Flinders has built a strong reputation for quality and innovation in its courses and in its teaching. It was the first university in the world to have a bachelor course in nanotechnology, and the first in Australia to offer a graduate entry medical course.  Flinders staff have received a number of national awards for teaching excellence.  

Focus on research

Throughout its history, Flinders University has had a focus and an emphasis on research.  Some excellent early appointments were made, especially to professors who built their international reputations along with that of the University. 

Quickly, Flinders became a strong research performer in Australia relative to its size. We are ranked as one of the world’s top 400 universities as determined by the Shanghai Jiao Academic Ranking of the World Universities (2011) and ranked at 299 in the QS World University Rankings (2011).

Our buildings

The Flinders University Bedford Park campus is built on land whose traditional owners are the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains.

In 1966 the campus was 370 acres (150 hectares) of open but hilly land. The first 10 years was a busy period of building construction and the University has continued to grow in each decade since.

In 1991 the Sturt campus of the South Australian College of Advanced Education (originally the Bedford Park Teachers College, located next to the University became part of Flinders University. Between 1992 and 1996, several new buildings were added (Information Science and Technology, Engineering and Law/Commerce), the Library was extended, and a new Yunggorendi Mande was opened to house the Indigenous Higher Education Centre.

The Australian Science and Mathematics School, the result of a partnership between Flinders University and the South Australian Government, and located on the campus, opened in 2003. In 2004 student accommodation on campus was expanded with the creation of the Deirdre Jordan Student Village.

Two buildings together costing $45m were completed in mid 2008. One is a building next to the Law/Commerce building houses the School of Education and the other is the new Health Sciences building, which accommodates a number of departments from the School of Medicine. The Faculty of Science and Engineering now has a dedicated first year teaching facility and the University’s Sports and Fitness Centre received a purpose-built extension. 

A presence in Victoria Square was opened in 2009 and in August 2012, Flinders announced it will make its largest single investment in educational facilities since the University was established more than 40 years ago with a planned $120 million expansion at Tonsley Park.

Flinders University also has a range of regional and interstate locations.


Flinders has been served by seven Vice-Chancellors:

  • Professor Peter Karmel (1966-1971)
  • Professor Roger Russell (1972-1979)
  • Professor Keith Hancock (1980-1987)
  • Professor John Lovering (1987-1994)
  • Professor Ian Chubb (1995-2000)
  • Professor Anne Edwards AO (2001-2007)
  • Professor Michael Barber (2008-2014)
  • Professor Colin Stirling (since 2015).

More information

For more information about our history, refer to: