History of the University of Queensland

Queensland’s oldest university, The University of Queensland, was established by an act of the State parliament on Dec 10th 1909. The University’s foundation commemorated the 50th anniversary of Queensland as a separate colony. At this time UQ was only the 5th university to be established in Australia.

The University’s first home was Queensland’s original Government House at Gardens Point, and when teaching started in 1911, 4 Professors and 10 other teaching staff taught 83 students (including 23 women) in three faculties: Arts, Science and Engineering.

By 1926 Commerce and Agriculture had been added to the faculties and the University needed more room to grow. In 1927 Dr James Mayne and Miss Mary Emelia Mayne, provided the funds to acquire the St Lucia site. By 1935 Law and Dentistry had been added to the faculties and the number of students passed 1000.

Construction at St Lucia began in 1937 on land originally used for a sugar mill and farm. Before the first building (The Forgan Smith Building) could be occupied in 1939, the needs of World War 2 intervened, and the St Lucia campus served as Advanced Headquarters for the Allied Land Forces in the South West Pacific.

When the war ended in 1946 the move to the St Lucia site from Gardens Point began, and was fully completed by 1972. Although today St Lucia is the largest campus of the University of Queensland, teaching and research also takes place at the Gatton Campus (formed in 1990 when the University merged with Queensland Agricultural College), at the Ipswich Campus (established 1999), the Medical School at Herston, the School of Dentistry in Turbot Street, and over 40 other locations throughout Queensland.

Today, UQ has almost 44,000 students who study across its four main campuses in southeast Queensland: St Lucia, Ipswich, Gatton and Herston. Staff and students from more than 134 nations are valued in its multicultural community, which celebrates excellence in all aspects of scholarship.

For further historical information see the University of Queensland ANZAC Day Display: Honouring our Law Students and Graduates who died on war service in World War II.

Resources used in this web site come from the University of Queensland Archives and the Fryer Library.

zoom Laying the foundation stone
Laying the St Lucia Foundation Stone
6 March 1937 UQA S533 [16]:[21]