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University of Southern Queensland

From the beginning

1967 Queensland Institute of Technology (Darling Downs)

 1966 Viewing the scale model of the campus
Viewing the scale model of the future campus 1966.
(Courtesy - The Chronicle)
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On 2 December 1960 a public meeting of over 200 people in Toowoomba led to the founding of the Darling Downs University Establishment Association under the Chairmanship of Dr Alex McGregor with the aim of setting up a higher education institution on the Darling Downs. For these early pioneers ensuring the best educational opportunities for people living in regional areas and supporting regional development were paramount considerations. The Association, with the support of the local community, lobbied government, raised funds and eventually succeeded in its aim. 

On 2 February 1967, the Queensland Institute of Technology (Darling Downs), later to become the:

  • Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (DDIAE, 1971)
  • the University College of Southern Queensland (UCSQ, 1990)
  • University of Southern Queensland (USQ, 1992)

Opened in Toowoomba with 140 foundation students, a Principal, eight full-time and five part-time academics, and five support staff. Staff and students were accommodated in one 1661m2 building on a bare green-field site with few services or amenities. Initially, 29 courses were offered in engineering, business studies and science at Diploma and Certificate levels. From these humble beginnings a fine institution has grown. 

To the people of the Darling Downs this was a giant leap forward and a major success, enhancing Toowoomba’s position as a major educational centre.

1971 Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (DDIAE)

 Picture of DDIAE campus 1977
DDIAE, a developing campus 1977
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In June 1971, the Institute became an autonomous multi-purpose college under the control of its own College Council.

The emphasis of the DDIAE was very much on student-focussed learning and teaching and employment-focussed curricula in professional courses in business, education, engineering, surveying, psychology, information technology, communications, and the creative and liberal arts. Distance education emerged as a major mode of delivery during the mid-1970s and by 1980 external enrolments exceeded internal enrolments.   

The DDIAE underwent enormous growth. In the two decades between 1970 and 1990 the student body grew from 1000 EFTSL (full-time student equivalents) to 8000 EFTSL and the physical campus grew immensely. 

The Institute’s student body included a high proportion of people from regional areas and people from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, and included a high proportion of adults studying part-time at a distance while employed. The Institute thus served to broaden opportunities for Australians to access higher education. The Institute’s distance education program also enabled its early entry into international education. The DDIAE actually boasted no less than three-quarters of Australia’s off-shore international student enrolments in 1986-7.

During its development, the DDIAE emerged as one of Australia’s leading Colleges of Advanced Education, leading the way in a wide range of areas.

1990 University College of Southern Queensland (UCSQ)

The ‘Dawkins Reforms’ in the late 1980s saw the development of the Unified National System of Higher Education which resulted in the DDIAE moving towards full university status, initially as a University College for an interim period under the sponsorship of the University of Queensland.

During this time professors were appointed, including Professor and Deans of Schools, major research programs were established, new teaching programs were introduced by way of nursing, accounting and banking and finance, The USQ Brisbane Centre was established, USQ’s renowned Regional Liaison Officer (local student support) Network expanded interstate and what would become a $100m capital works program over the next decade was commenced.

1992 University of Southern Queensland (USQ)

 Image of the USQ sign erected in 1992
Institute becomes the University of Southern Queensland 1992.
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The institution gained full university status in 1992, becoming the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). The University has changed dramatically in many ways since then, including:
  • developing a significant research profile
  • expanding its postgraduate coursework programs. Now ranking number five in the sector for the proportion of its enrolments in these programs
  • establishing significant branch campuses in Wide Bay on the central Queensland coast and in Springfield in Brisbane’s western corridor
  • expanding its work with local communities. Most recently through the establishment of the Queensland College of Wine Tourism in Stanthorpe
  • further expanding its international program including through major off-shore centres and a strong on-shore presence through its Sydney Centre.

However, much of the foundation values and core activities of the DDIAE have remained:

  • strong community support and a strong regional base serve to support USQ’s growth as a local, State, national and international higher education provider
  • student-focussed learning and teaching, high levels of student support and professional education remain central to USQ’s approach.
  • USQ remains one of Australia’s leading institutions in distance education and flexible learning
  • broadening opportunities for access to higher education by Australians from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life is a key aspect of USQ’s mission
  • USQ maintains a national and international perspective from a strong base in its local communities.

The success of the Institution’s development as a major regional university was recognised by USQ being named Australian University of the Year 2000-2001.

  CRICOS: QLD 00244B | NSW 02225M Updated 26 May 2006 |