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Southern Cross University
Motto A New Way to Think
Established 1994
Type Public
Chancellor The Hon. Justice John Dowd AO
Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter L Lee
Undergraduates 14,359
Postgraduates 3,733
Location Lismore, Coffs Harbour, Tweed Heads, NSW, Australia
Campus Urban

Southern Cross University (SCU) is a university based on the Mid North and North coast of New South Wales, Australia. It is a regional University with more than 14,000 students. The University's primary campus is in Lismore, with other campuses located at Coffs Harbour and Tweed Heads.

The University is Australia’s seventh-largest provider of distance education. It also has international students from about 50 countries. More than 700 students are enrolled on-campus and with partners in Australia, with a further 1300 enrolled in overseas programs.

Southern Cross University offers courses in arts, education, social sciences, business, tourism, law, health, indigenous studies, and environmental science.



Southern Cross University was established on 1 January 1994, following the decentralisation of the network of the University of New England, Australia as a university with several campuses, which had been established in 1989. The University of New England, continues to exist as a single campus in Armidale, New South Wales, as it had been established in 1954.

The old college in Lismore, New South Wales, was the Lismore Teachers College, founded in 1971. This institution was expanded and renamed the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education in 1973. Following the publication of the Australian Government's White Paper on Higher Education in 1988, with its emphasis on the development of larger institutions, the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education was sent into an association with the old University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, and it formally became a network member of the newly constituted University of New England, under legislation that was enacted in 1989.

During 1992, in response to a proposal from the Board of Governors of the University of New England, the State and Commonwealth Ministers responsible for Higher Education established an Advisory Group to consider the implications of the Board of Governors' proposal that the network-style University of New England, Australia, be abolished, and that more than one new universities be established.

The Advisory Group recommended that a new university be established in the North Coast Region of New South Wales as an academically-integrated institution incorporating the two University of New England network centres at Northern Rivers, New South Wales and Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, with the prospect of establishing additional North Coast centres as required. The Advisory Group also proposed that the new university develop under the sponsorship/supervision of a major metropolitan university for its first three years, while operating under its own name and with its own Council, and awarding its own degrees.

The Commonwealth and State Government Ministers jointly appointed an Implementation Advisory Panel to advise on the strategies necessary to give effect to the proposed new structures and announced that the successor institutions to the University of New England network would be established in time for the 1994-95 academic year. The University of New England, remains where it had originally been, in Armidale, New South Wales, as a single campus.

On 29 June 1993, the Commonwealth Department for Employment, Education, and Training and the New South Wales Department of Education and Training announced the outcome of the joint Commonwealth/State review of the continued offering of higher education in northern New South Wales. The announcement included the decision that a new university would be established on the North Coast of New South Wales, which would consist of campuses at Lismore, New South Wales (formerly the University of New England, Australia-Northern Rivers) and at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales (formerly the University of New England-Coffs Harbour Centre). It was later announced that the new college would be called the Southern Cross University. Legislation was passed by both houses of the Government of New South Wales Parliament in October 1993.


The Lismore campus is the largest and central campus of the University. It occupies 60 Ha in the North Coast area. The campus is 3 km from Lismore City's CBD.

The Lismore campus houses the majority of the University’s academic and research units and most essential student facilities and services are available on this campus.

Other Campuses

  • Coffs Harbour
  • Tweed Gold Coast
  • Sydney

National Marine Science Centre

Southern Cross University is also a partner in the National Marine Science Centre, located at Coffs Harbour and in the center of the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Students complete two years of a Bachelor of Marine Science and Management at the Lismore campus. Their final year is at Coffs Harbour where they study specialist marine science units. The SCU marine science course is widely considered as the top marine science course in Australia.




The University is governed by a Council, to which its Chief Executive Officer, the Vice-Chancellor, reports. This Council is responsible for the management of the University's affairs. The major academic body providing advice to Council on academic matters is the Academic Board.

The Council is chaired by the Chancellor. The Council has 19 members, including the Vice-Chancellor, the Chair of the Academic Board, six members appointed by the Minister, four members appointed by council, three elected staff members and one elected student member.

Academic structure

The institution is divided into two faculties, and a number of Schools and Colleges included within those faculties.

  • Faculty of Arts and Sciences
    • School of Arts and Social Sciences
    • School of Education
    • School of Environmental Science and Management
    • Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples
    • School of Health and Human Sciences
      • Department of Psychology
      • Department of Exercise Science and Sport Management
      • Department of Natural and Complementary Medicine
      • Department of Nursing and Health Care Practices
  • Faculty of Business and Law
    • School of Commerce and Management
    • School of Tourism and Hospitality Management
    • School of Law and Justice
    • Graduate College of Management
    • The Hotel School, Sydney

Principal officers

As of 2007, the current holders of offices within the University are:

Chancellor & Chair of Council
The Honourable Justice John Dowd AO
Deputy Chancellor & Deputy Chair of Council
David Vincent Cody
Vice Chancellor & President
Professor Peter L Lee

Notable graduates



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