Amalgamation and its aftermath

The New England University College (NEUC) was formed in 1938 as a college of the University of Sydney, and as the 'university of the north' . In 1954 the University became fully independent as the University of New England, and pioneered teaching to external students by correspondence, making UNE Australia's most experienced provider of distance and now online education.

Then in 1989, the UNE underwent further major change: an amalgamation with other regional educational institutes, forming a network university. This was a tumultuous period, and the amalgamation with Institutes outside Armidale short-lived.

A network university

The University of New England Act, 1989, created a network university consisting of:

(i) a campus at Armidale incorporating the University of New England and the former Armidale College of Advanced Education. The College of Advanced Education began life in 1928 as the Armidale Teachers College and became the Armidale College of Advanced Education in 1974, prior to amalgamation with UNE in 1989.

(ii) a campus at Lismore, incorporating the former Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education.

The following year, the Orange Agricultural College joined the network university. The network also included the UNE-Coffs Harbour Centre that provided courses from academic departments from the Armidale and Lismore campuses.

Widespread belief among UNE academics of that time, that Lismore and Orange had benefited by the amalgamation at UNE's expense, was couched in concern about academic standards being trivialised and that UNE was being 'bled dry'.

Dismantling of the network

In November 1993, with legislation passed by both Houses of the New South Wales Parliament (The University of New England Act, 1993, and The Southern Cross University Act, 1993), the university network was dismantled. Southern Cross University was formed in its wake, with campuses in Lismore and Coffs Harbour. The Orange campus was amalgamated with the University of Sydney. The University of New England had been reformed — once again.

Bruce ThomThe first Vice-Chancellor of the reconstituted University, Professor Bruce Thom (pictured), arrived on campus in February 1994. He found a university in financial difficulties, as the previously strong financial position of the Armidale campus had deteriorated during the years of the university network.

The new Chancellor was the dynamic magistrate Pat O'Shane who led the UNE Council in introducing cost-cutting measures aimed at reducing the deficit. But the University was dogged by continuing budgetary problems (compounded in 1995 by the costly failure, in its first year, of a joint educational venture in Turkey) and, in spite of all Thom's efforts, mounting dissatisfaction led to his resignation as Vice-Chancellor in 1996.

Over the next two years, Professor Mal Nairn as Interim Vice-Chancellor and then Professor Ingrid Moses (pictured) as Vice-Chancellor (1997 – 2006) introduced new planning processes and administrative structures that were instrumental in delivering the first balanced budget for some years.

Policy of openness

Professor Ingrid MosesIn introducing these new structures, Professor Moses emphasised the importance of a policy of 'openness' towards students as well as towards the broader community, saying: "We cannot be open to students unless we have administrative systems in place that facilitate this, unless we have academic policies that allow this, unless we have staffing policies that support this."

As part of this policy of 'openness' to students and communities, Professor Moses established the UNE Country Scholarship Scheme in 1999. This scheme, financed by the University itself and by individuals and organisations within the community, continues to this day to enable many outstanding young people from rural and remote areas to live on campus for the duration of an undergraduate degree program. See information about UNE's scholarships.

Professor Moses also took the University out into the region by establishing UNE Study Centres within a number of regional communities. UNE now has Regional Study Centres in Tamworth, Taree, Coonabarabran, Narrabri, Moree, Inverell, Tenterfield, Glen Innes, Gunnedah and Guyra. They give UNE students living in those communities direct access to the Armidale campus via online, video-conferencing and telephone facilities, and provide space for meetings and quiet study.

The central courtyard on the campus of the University of New England has been named the "Ingrid Moses Courtyard" in recognition of the former Vice-Chancellor's contribution to the University from 1997 – 2006.

For further information ...

A Spirit of True Learning, a commemorative history of UNE written by Dr Matthew Jordan, tells the story of the University of New England

  • from its birth in 1938 as New England University College (NEUC) as an affiliate college of Sydney University
  • through to its development of a distinctive academic tradition and autonomy in 1954
  • and finally its vision for the future as UNE celebrates more than 50 years of excellence.