Sydney Uni’s plan to rule the west

University of Sydney’s famous sandstone campus.

This story was originally printed in the Sunday Telegraph.

Sydney University, Australia’s oldest and most prestigious sandstone university, will build a new “second home” in western Sydney.

The governing body approved an expansion plan for a Westmead campus on Wednesday to rival its existing 162-year-old inner-city site.

With more than half of Sydney’s population expected to live west of Parramatta within 20 years, university executives based in Camperdown and Darlington feared being “stranded in the east”.

In response, vice-chancellor Michael Spence has been granted permission to draw up detailed designs for a second campus, with a view to begin construction in five years.

University executives have identified potential sites either side of the Parramatta River at Westmead and will set about negotiating with the state government for land.

The second campus will eventually offer a full compliment of courses near its existing medical facility, which currently supports 1600 students and 1200 researchers.

“The university has decided Westmead should not merely be a health campus, but over time it will be the second home of the University of Sydney a whole second campus,” Dr Spence said.

“This is not Sydney University lite, this is a serious investment in high-quality teaching and research.”

Dr Spence would not be drawn on how much the new campus will cost or how many students it will hold, other than to say it will be progressively built in line with population growth and financed by debt and tuition fees.

The expansion will bolster Sydney University’s stake in the rich Western Sydney student market in the face of mounting competition from University of NSW, Macquarie University and Western Sydney University.

Sydney Uni already attracts the second-largest share of students from the west with ATAR scores above 80, behind only UNSW. Competition will intensify next year when the Wollongong Uni opens a new campus in Liverpool.