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|Campus||Multiple sites: metropolitan, regional, and online.|
|Named after||Charles Darwin|
Charles Darwin University (CDU) is an Australian public university with a main campus in Darwin and eight satellite campuses in some metropolitan and regional areas. It was established in 2003 after the merger of Northern Territory University, the Menzies School of Health Research, and Centralian College.
Charles Darwin University has evolved over the years through the merging of several higher education institutions.
Darwin Community College, founded in 1974 and renamed Darwin Institute of Technology in 1984, was a combined College of Advanced Education and a TAFE College. It was situated on what is now the Casuarina Campus, although it used other buildings at various times in Darwin. By the time of the formation of the Northern Territory University, it gave degrees in arts, education, business and applied science.
The Menzies School of Health Research was established in 1985 as a body corporate of the Northern Territory Government under the Menzies Act 1985. This act was amended in 2004 to formalise the relationship with Charles Darwin University. Menzies is now a major partner of CDU and constitutes a school within the university on campus at CDU Casuarina offering post-graduate degrees and higher degrees by research.
On several occasions the Government of the Northern Territory requested the Australian Commonwealth Government to finance a university in the territory. The response was always that the population was too small. In 1985, it took the unusual step of financing the University College of the Northern Territory itself for a five-year period from 1987 to 1991. The college was governed by a council, chaired by Austin Asche and led by a warden, Professor Jim Thomson, from the University of Queensland. An arrangement was made with the University of Queensland that the college would award degrees from that institution. Staff were recruited in 1986 and housed in the old Darwin Primary School buildings. Just prior to taking the first students in February 1987, the college moved to converted building of the former Darwin Hospital at Myilly Point in Darwin. The former nurses' hostel became a student residence, named International House. The college had two faculties, of arts and science. It awarded, through the University of Queensland link, the first Doctor of Philosophy degrees in the Northern Territory.
Centralian College was founded in 1993 from the merger of Sadadeen Senior Secondary College and the Alice Springs College of TAFE. During its life, the college delivered senior secondary, TAFE and higher education through its main campus in Alice Springs, and to a lesser extent the whole Northern Territory. Centralian College is a co-educational senior secondary school, for students from Year 10 to Year 12. Centralian College shares its campus with the Charles Darwin University campus of Alice Springs. Centralian College uses the university's facilities and students attending Centralian College can participate in VET courses (as early as Year 10) offered by CDU.
The Northern Territory University was founded in January 1989 by a merger of the Darwin Institute of Technology and the University College of the Northern Territory. The merger was controversial, but forced by the so-called Dawkins Revolution under federal Minister of Education John Dawkins. The new university started life on 1 January 1989. Degrees of the University of Queensland continued to be awarded for a few years.
The first vice-chancellor was Professor Malcolm Nairn from Murdoch University in Western Australia. Under his leadership the university prospered and morale was high among both staff and students. However funding declined as student numbers rose. During his term of office the various study centres on the territory, that previously had been run directly by the NT Government, became part of the university. The Palmerston campus, for a few years previously a TAFE College, also became part of the university. The Palmerston campus is situated on University Avenue as this was the proposed site for a new university in a submission to the federal government in 1981.
The second vice-chancellor was Professor Roger Holmes from Griffith University. After an initial excellent start to his period of office, he disappointed the university and local community by resigning after serving for only one semester to take up the post of vice-chancellor at University of Newcastle.
He was replaced as third vice-chancellor by the then deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Ron McKay. Under his leadership, the financial constraints on the university increased. The environment of having to provide as wide as possible a tertiary education to a small population living in a very large area far from alternative institutions became even more hostile and the university did not prosper. In January 2001, the Katherine Rural College, including Mataranka Station, became part of the university.
After McKay's resignation due to ill health in 2002, an interim vice-chancellor, Professor Ken McKinnon, former vice-chancellor of the University of Wollongong was appointed. He took various actions to improve the health of the university, some controversial, such as the proposal to merge with Centralian College with a new name for the university.
On 21 August 2003, the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly passed the Charles Darwin University Act 2003 (NT), merging Alice Springs' Centralian College and the Menzies School of Health Research with the Northern Territory University to form Charles Darwin University from 1 January 2004. The inaugural university council meeting was held on 26 November 2003.
Charles Darwin University is a dual-sector university, which means the university offers Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses and higher education undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, covering a wide range of subjects and disciplines.
According to the 2019 Annual Report, enrolments in 2019 totalled 20,6491 students, with 14,847 students enrolled in vocational and educational training courses and 12,343 enrolled in higher education degrees.
CDU is made up of six Colleges:
Vocational Education and Training is embedded within the Colleges.
Menzies was established in 1985 as a body corporate of the Northern Territory Government under the Menzies Act 1985. This Act was amended in 2004 to formalise the relationship with Charles Darwin University (CDU). Menzies is now a major partner of CDU and constitutes a school within the University's Institute of Advanced Studies.
The university has close links with Flinders University in South Australia, which itself has many students from the Northern Territory, including joint management of the Centre for Remote Health in Alice Springs and the Northern Territory Medical Program which is located on campus at Casuarina CDU.
Research Institutes and Centres
According to Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings of 2021, Charles Darwin University is ranked 501-600th in the world and 29th in Australia. It is also ranked 101-150th in the world in the 2020 Times Higher Education 100 Under 50, making it the youngest university in Australia to make this list.
The current and third chancellor of the university since 1 January 2010 is the Honourable Sally Thomas, , also the Administrator of the Northern Territory. The current vice-chancellor and president of the university since 2014 is Professor Simon Maddocks, an agricultural scientist.
Students are represented by the CDU Student Council (CDUSC), and postgraduate students by the CDU Postgraduate Student Association, a member of the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations. Multiple student associations also exist for the individual schools, including the CDU Law Students' Society, associated with the Australian Law Students' Association, and the CDU Business Students' Association.
104.1 Territory FM is a community radio station owned by CDU and based at the Casuarina campus. The station is broadcast on 104.1 Darwin and Palmerston and 98.7 Alice Springs and can also be heard in Batchelor, Katherine / Tindal, Tennant Creek, Nhulunbuy and Adelaide River.