Students at the University of Sydney

Senate online exhibition

A Senate online exhibition on the early students at the University of Sydney from 1852 can be accessed from the links on the left.

Students in 1857
Women students on the stairs of Manning House, c1932
Commemoration Day celebrations in 1952
The old Fisher Library in the 1950s
Our Education is Not for Sale rally, 2003
Graduation day

The first 24 students for the three year Bachelor of Arts degree course were admitted in 1852. Lectures by the three academic staff were at first held in College Street in the former Sydney College building (now part of Sydney Grammar School) until 1857 when they were moved to the Main Quadrangle Building which was still under construction.

Women students were not admitted until 1881, and the first intake was two.

Enrolment and graduate statistics between 1852 and 1880 were disappointing, with enrolments averaging around 50 each year, and the number of graduates around 10 a year.

However, from the 1880s onwards the Challis Bequest enabled growth in the number of faculties and professors, and the Arts degree underwent major change. As a result of these developments and the admission of women, enrolments began to rise, with 76 in 1880, 583 in 1890, 1,342 in 1910 and 3,356 in 1920.

Fast forward to the present — Sydney is one of the leading Australian universities, with sixteen faculties and schools, 49,061 student enrolments*, 3,067 academic staff* and 270,000 alumni worldwide*.

* as at 31 March 2010