The University of Sydney and the Idea of the Networked University

Mark Hutchinson


Through the 1980s numerous attempts were made to merge, articulate, and rationalise university administrations. By the end of the decade, it appeared that Macquarie University would be almost the only single campus university left in New South Wales. Where does the idea of the multicampus university come from and what are the contextual factors which make the idea, first, increasingly plausible, and finally inevitable, with the enactment of the Dawkins reforms in 1988-89? This paper finds the origins of the idea in overseas practice (particularly in Britain and the USA), tracks its emergence as a policy option through the early 1980s, and outlines the contextual factors which caused government agencies to seize upon the idea as a means of dealing with recurrent funding, social, and organisational crises associated with the emergence of Australia as a mass-consumer culture within a reflexive global society. A case study, demonstrating the effects of the idea upon the University of Sydney under the ministerial reign of Terry Metherell, will give point to the paper’s major themes.

Mark Hutchinson is Historian for the University of Western Sydney's 25th Anniversary volume