Book launch: A History of the Modern Australian University

Published: Wednesday 1st October 2014

Former federal education minister John Dawkins AO will launch historian Hannah Forsyth’s book A History of the Modern Australian University at 5pm on Friday 3 October at Gleebooks in Sydney.

In 1857 all of the Arts students at the University of Sydney could fit into a single photograph. Now there are more than one million university students in Australia. After World War II, Australian universities became less elite but more important, growing from six small institutions educating less than 0.2 per cent of the population to a system enrolling more than a quarter of high school graduates.


And yet, universities today are plagued with ingrained problems. More than 50 per cent of the cost of universities goes to just running them. They now have an explicit commercial focus. They compete bitterly for students and funding, an issue sharply underlined by the latest federal budget. Scholars rarely feel their vice-chancellors represent them and within their own ranks, academics squabble for scraps.


A History of the Modern Australian University is a perceptive, clear-eyed account of Australian universities, recounting their history from the 1850s to the present. Investigating the changing nature of higher education, it asks whether this success is likely to continue in the 21st century, as the university’s hold over knowledge grows ever more tenuous.


Dr Hannah Forsyth is a Lecturer in Australian History and a member of ACU's Historical Studies Research Concentration. She regularly writes about the Australian university sector for The Conversation.


Event details

What: Book launch: A History of the Modern Australian University by Hannah Forsyth
Where: Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
When: Friday 3 October, 5pm for 5.30pm
Cost: Free. For reservations or information, contact Gleebooks