Western Sydney University, formerly the University of Western Sydney, is an Australian multi-campus university in the Greater Western region of Sydney. It is a provider of undergraduate, postgraduate and higher research degrees with campuses in Bankstown, Blacktown, Campbelltown, Hawkesbury, Parramatta, and Penrith. It is currently ranked in the top 400 in the world in the 2019 THE World University Rankings and 19th in Australia in 2019.
The university in its current form was founded in 1989 under the terms of the University of Western Sydney Act, 1988, which created a federated network university with an amalgamation between the Nepean College of Advanced Education and the Hawkesbury Agricultural College. The Macarthur Institute of Higher Education was incorporated in the university in 1989, and in 2001 the University of Western Sydney was restructured as a single multi-campus university rather than as a federation. In 2015, the university underwent a rebranding which resulted in a change in name from the University of Western Sydney to Western Sydney University.
The University consists of an amalgamation of campuses, each with their own unique and individual history. In 1891, the Hawkesbury campus was established as an agricultural college by the NSW Agricultural Society. At Parramatta, the University owns and has renovated the Female Orphan School building, the foundation stone of which was laid by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1813.
In 1987 the New South Wales Labor government planned to name the university Chifley University, after the former Labor Prime Minister, Ben Chifley. However, in 1989, a new Liberal government reversed this decision and controversially named it the University of Western Sydney.
In 1989, teachers’ colleges and Colleges of Advanced Education in Sydney’s western suburbs were given university status under the University of Western Sydney Act of 1988. The 1990s saw the federation of three education providers: UWS Nepean, UWS Hawkesbury and UWS Macarthur. 1989 was the year the Hawke federal labour government introduced HECS, the Higher Education Contribution Scheme. The University has a legislative basis in NSW state legislation with the passing of the University of Western Sydney Act (NSW) 1997, which also empowers the university to make by-laws affecting the operation of the university. In 2000, in order to reduce administrative expenses and duplication of courses offered by the inner Sydney universities and to eliminate competition between Western Sydney University member institutions, Western Sydney University became one multi-campus university.