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This webpage covers some of the events and items of historical interest that occurred at the University of New South Wales from the 1980s.

For further information, please contact the Archives.

back to 1970s


University Archivist Laurie Dillon with photographs from the Archives, 1980.
(Photographer: G. Downie, UNSW Archives CN1127/10)
Laurie Dillon, Lady Webster and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Ray Golding with Chancellor Sir Robert Webster's private papers, which were donated to the Archives, 1984.
(Public Affairs Unit, UNSW Archives CN1131)

In February 1980 UNSW Archives was established with the appointment of foundation university archivist, Laurie Dillon. UNSW Archives was assigned responsibility for an archival program including the collection and preservation of the university's archival records, of private papers relating to the development, activities and people of the university, and for the provision of access to these records, as well as the conduct of the university's oral history program to record individual histories of past and present members of the university community.


Vice-Chancellor Professor Rupert Myers and Jane Ingham after her graduation ceremony, 1981.
(Photographer: G. Downie, UNSW Archives CN1127/7)
Chancellor Gordon Samuels presents Paul Gompels with his degree, 1993.
(University Photographer, UNSW Archives 98A1) 

On 4 February 1981 Jane Ingham MBBS received the 50,000th degree or diploma awarded by the university since its foundation in 1949. The next 50,000 were to be awarded much more quickly, as the 100,000th milestone was reached with Paul Gompels being admitted to a Bachelor of Commerce degree on 20 April 1993. By 2012 239,152 degrees or diplomas had been awarded by the university.

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Opening of the Io Myers Studio, 1982 - (l-r) Sir Rupert Myers, the Hon Gordon Samuels, Lady Io Myers, Mrs Jenny Birt.
(Photographer: K. Doig, UNSW Archives CN1127/5)

On 4 November 1982 the Io Myers Studio was opened. It represented an important achievement for the School of Drama, as it was the first properly equipped theatre space on campus that was primarily intended for use by the school.


Australia Ensemble - Murray Khouri, David Pereira, David Bollard, Irena Morosov, Geoffrey Collins, Dene Olding, 1983.
(Photographer: Ben Erikson, UNSW Archives CN1127/8)

In October 1983 the University of New South Wales Ensemble was renamed the Australia Ensemble, Resident at the University of New South Wales. The change in name was intended to better reflect the international reputation that the Ensemble had earned since its establishment in 1980.

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Prime Minister Robert Hawke observes students Morna Seres and Terence Crawford declaiming a farewell ode to the old NIDA premises as part of the unveiling of the foundation stone for NIDA's new building, 1984.
(Photographer: K. Doig, UNSW Archives CN1127/5) 

On 11 April 1984 the Prime Minister, the Hon Robert Hawke, unveiled the foundation stone for the construction of the new home for the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) near the Parade Theatre on Western Campus. NIDA had been established in 1958 as a company limited by guarantee with a board of directors whose members were appointed by its three participating bodies - UNSW, the Elizabethan Theatre Trust and the Australian Broadcasting Commission. From 1962 until 1987, NIDA was located in the White House precinct.


Pictured at the final meeting of the Faculty of Military Studies - John Gannon, Roy Pugh, Professor Harry Heseltine, Professor Ray Golding, Professor Tony Wicken, Professor Geoff Wilson, Emeritus Professor Albert Willis, Emeritus Professor Sir Rupert Myers, 1985.
(Photographer: Peter Morrell, UNSW Archives CN1127/1)

On 8 November 1985 the final meeting of the Faculty of Military Studies was held. The faculty had been established as the result of the signing of a 1967 agreement between the Department of the Army and UNSW to create a faculty responsible for the conduct of courses leading to the degrees of Bachelor of Science in Military Studies and Bachelor of Arts in Military Studies. Its inaugural meeting was on 20 June 1968 with dean Professor Sir Leslie Martin as Acting Chairman. On 7 May 1981 an agreement was signed between the Australian Government and UNSW to establish a University College within the Defence Force Academy, thereby replacing the responsibilities of the faculty. The University College of the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) came into effect on 1 January 1986.

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VL2UV Radio University Mast at Concord, c. 1960s.
(UNSW Archives CN945/48)
Marie Cross passes recordings for Radio University programs to S. E. Molen in the VL2UV control room, 1960s.
(UNSW Archives CN945/48)

In 1986 broadcasting on the UNSW radio station, Radio University VL2UV, was phased out. The station had opened on 17 May 1961 and was the first university-owned and controlled broadcasting station in Australia. It initially broadcast from the Electrical Engineering building, but from 1962 the station used a mast and transmitter situated in Concord to provide better coverage of Sydney suburbs. The purpose of Radio University was to transmit pre-recorded lectures, supplemented by printed material released by the university, to listeners at home - an innovative service at a time of few distance education options. The station's licence was, however, limiting in many ways, including a prohibition on broadcasting music, a transmission power of only 300 watts (as opposed to the 5000 watts used by Sydney commercial stations) and a frequency of 1750 kilocycles, which initially required the university to hire out specially designed radio receivers. Eventually the operation of Radio University ceased to be cost-effective and was brought to a close.


Inaugural UNSW Sports Scholarships winners - James Moir, Lisa McPherson, David Wappett, Atticus Fleming, Tara Payne and Richard Thompson - with the Head of the Sport & Recreation Centre, Ian Moutray, 1988.
(Public Affairs Unit, UNSW Archives CN1127/14) 

On 23 October 1987 a dinner was held to launch the UNSW Sporting Scholarships for students with outstanding abilities in sport. Later re-named the Ben Lexcen Sports Scholarships, they were the first sports scholarships to be offered by an Australian university. In 1988 six annual scholarships worth $1000 each were awarded to Atticus Fleming (cricket), James Moir (athletics), Lisa McPherson (basketball), Tara Payne (volleyball), Richard Thompson (hockey) and David Wappett (baseball).

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Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Birt and IBM Managing Director & CEO Brian Finn with the first 52 students in the BIT Program, 1988.
(Photographer: Tony Potter, UNSW Archives CN1131)

In 1988 52 students began studies in UNSW's new Bachelor of Science in Business Information Technology (BIT) program. A unique feature of this program was that all participants received industry-financed scholarships, as well as industry training and experience in sponsoring organisations. An initiative of the Commonwealth government, UNSW was one of four institutions in Australia chosen to participate in the 1988 pilot scheme. It was so successful that from 1989 UNSW expanded its scheme into the newly created Co-op Program, designed to encompass students studying courses from a variety of industry-linked disciplines.


Staff of the International Student Centre - Bryan Burke, Betty Chow, Diane Hargans, Walter Fogarty, Lee Ley Ping - 1989.
(International Student Centre, UNSW Archives S1892/1)
Suzanne Shui San Lau, part of the first Foundation Studies cohort, receives her completion certificate from Unisearch Chair Sir Rupert Myers, 1990.
(Photographer: K. Doig, UNSW Archives 98A1)

In 1989 an International Student Centre was established. Although international students had been attending UNSW since its early years, there had not previously been a specific centre to cater for their needs. The tertiary preparation Foundation Studies course, run via Unisearch and aimed at international students, also commenced in the same year.

continue to 1990s

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