History and growth - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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History and growth

Located in one of the country's fastest growing regions, the University of the Sunshine Coast campus at Sippy Downs has grown to accommodate more than 10,000 students.

Planning began for the Sunshine Coast University College in 1994. The University opened in 1996, becoming the first greenfield university to open in Australia since 1971.

Full university status was granted to the institution years ahead of schedule, and it officially became the University of the Sunshine Coast on 1 January 1999.

Since its establishment, the University has focused on community engagement, campus development, innovative programs and a personalised approach to learning.

Strong community support

The University was founded to serve the needs of the wider Sunshine Coast community, one of Australia's fastest growing regions.

Representatives of the Sunshine Coast had long lobbied for a university to be established in the area to provide local residents access to tertiary education. It was also recognised that the establishment of a university would provide unprecedented economic benefits to the region.

The first discussions for a university in the region began in 1973, but it wasn't until 1989 that the Commonwealth government approved the establishment of a university. In 1992, A$9.5 million was allocated to develop the Sunshine Coast campus.

From canefield to campus

A former cane farm at Sippy Downs was selected as the site for the new university. The 100-hectare site was chosen because it lay at the geographical heart of the Sunshine Coast and its shires, and was accessible from the Bruce Highway and other major transport routes.

On 1 July 1994, Queensland Parliament passed The Sunshine Coast University College Act 1994, creating Queensland's seventh public university.

The first soil was turned on site on 4 September 1994 with construction commencing soon after. Stage I was completed well before the University's first day of business. On 26 February 1996, 524 new students were welcomed onto campus.

The power of ten

In 2006, the University celebrated its 10th anniversary with a calendar of events based on the theme “The Power of Ten: Celebrating Our First and Future Decades”, including special Art Gallery exhibitions, Alumni functions, conferences, community events, building openings and book launches.

The University held a special graduation ceremony in April 2006 to mark the important milestone of USC’s first decade. Since welcoming the first 524 students through its doors in 1996 the University has celebrated thousands of graduates at its graduation ceremonies.

Continual growth and development

Since planning commenced in 1994, the University's physical development has been guided by the campus master plan. Continual development ensures that the University's buildings and facilities grow with increasing student and staff numbers.

The buildings on campus are renowned for their distinctive, sub-tropical architecture, and have won more than 30 awards for design and construction.

The University has undertaken a variety of initiatives to preserve and enhance the natural environment on campus throughout its development.

A university community takes shape

The area surrounding the University will expand further in coming years. The University is part of the education precinct at Sippy Downs, being co-located with private and public schools.

A sports hub is evolving around the University's indoor Sports Stadium, outdoor playing fields and the Health and Sport Centre.

Lastly, a retail precinct has been planned and supported by the Sunshine Coast Council to be developed on land opposite the University's entrance.

More information on the Council's Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme.