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The University of Western Australia


The University was established due largely to the efforts of Sir John Winthrop Hackett, who had a long-standing vision and passion to provide Western Australia with a university. Proprietor and editor of The West Australian newspaper, he chaired a Royal Commission which recommended the establishment of a university. Later he was the founding Chancellor and bequeathed more than £425,000 (the equivalent of more than $32 million today) to the University.

There was consensus among legislators of the time that the University not only be free, but also provide tertiary education of a practical nature to help develop Western Australia's pioneering economy. At the time of the University's foundation, Perth's population was just 121,000 and its economy relied mostly on agricultural, pastoral and mining industries.


As a result, the founding professorial appointments were in Agriculture, Mining and Engineering, Geology, Mathematics and Physics, Chemistry, History and Economics, Biology, and English. These were balanced to an extent by the appointment of lecturers in Classics and Ancient History, French, German, Mental and Moral Philosophy, and Veterinary Science. Overarching these 12 posts were three faculties – Engineering, Science and Arts.

More than 100 years later, the University is now home to four faculties, their attendant schools, and many research institutions and centres, all of which celebrated the University's Centenary in 2013. UWA also entered the internationally recognised Academic Ranking of World Universities' Top 100 listing, continuing to set the standard for other Western Australian universities to follow in terms of recognition for its achievements nationally and internationally.

Top in rankings
UWA is proud to rank 86 in the Top 100 Universities around the world (QS 2020). Our reputation for excellence in teaching, learning and research makes UWA competitive in a wide range of subjects.

The University’s mission is to provide world-class education, research and community engagement for the advancement of the prosperity and welfare of our communities. Our vision is to create the next generation of global leaders through experience-rich education and world- leading, trustworthy research.


Student and graduate quality

  •  The consistently high entry (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) scores for UWA mean that the University’s undergraduate cohort is the most academically talented of any West Australian university and generally is recognised as being of the highest quality in Australia.

  • In the last 60 years, students at UWA have been awarded 57 Rhodes scholarships.

  • We count among our graduates:

  • former Prime Minister, the late Hon Dr Bob Hawke, AC

  • His Excellency the Hon Dr Kim Beazley, AC, WA State Governor, past three WA Governors were UWA graduates

  • Federal Government minister and Attorney-General, the Hon. Christian Porter and many current and past Federal Members of Parliament

  • Nobel Prize winners Professor Barry Marshall, AC and Emeritus Professor Robin Warren, AC

  • Chancellor of the University of Western Australia, Dr Robert French, AC, former Chief Justice of the High Court

  • Academy Award winner Shaun Tan

  • former Premier, the Hon Colin Barnett as well as many State Members of Parliament and ministers

  • five of the last six Australian Ambassadors to China

  • and thousands of other leaders across all fields of human endeavour and community activity.


Economic contribution

  • The Western Australian economy is currently the powerhouse of the national economy. For 100 years, the strategic teaching and research priorities of The University of Western Australia have been aligned with the needs of the state, supporting economic and social development.

  • In 2010, an independent study of the value of The University of Western Australia to the state economy – undertaken by ACIL-Tasman – estimated that in the next 40 years, UWA would contribute more than $60 billion dollars value to the Western Australian community through its research programs, educational functions, capabilities, relationships and investments.

  • Behind every leading economy there is a leading university.

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