Leaders in Education

The Universal Touch – World leading research & facilities

words craig cook

Melissa Bendell is only 23 but the student from Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast has high ambitions. She has an undergraduate degree in business and tourism from James Cook Univeristy in Queensland; explored cultural heritage and tourism management strategies in Asia; and now is looking to marry maritime archeology and tourism with a three-year maritime archaeology course.

Her destination of choice? Flinders University which has its main campus at Bedford Park, 10km south of the Adelaide city. “I chose to study in Adelaide because in my experience this course is the best in Australia and that’s all down to the calibre of the lecturers,” the member of the University’s highly regarded Maritime Field School says. “There are also a lot of international lecturers as part of the course and great opportunities to go and study overseas which is where my future work is likely to be.”

South Australia’s top class university facilities and world class reputation for research — added to an enviable lifestyle — are attracting students from across Australia and overseas. Adelaide is the hub of the state’s three public centres of educational excellence, which include the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and University of South Australia.

Ranking as Australia’s most affordable mainland capital city and the fifth most liveable city in the world, Adelaide excels as a place to study. All three public universities are ranked in the top 150 in the world, in rankings relevant to the age of each University. With a focus for research centres where industry, higher education and government work together on projects of national and international importance, the three public universities have been joined in recent years by American Carnegie Mellon University and Torrens University to create a university precinct within the city of Adelaide.

The education hub has further boosted Adelaide’s status and aspiration to become Australia’s ‘Boston’ – widely recognised as America’s ultimate college town with 250,000 students – by being small enough to feel like a community but one that can offer endless sources of intellectual stimulation, and world class  entertainment while extending the greatest availability and diversity of a university education.

With four flagship research institutes, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, Future Industries Institute, Hawke Research Institute and Sansom Institute for Health Research, UniSA has 97 per cent of its research rated at or above world class standard. A recent research breakthrough is the development of an improved system for cancer detection that relies on magnetic rather than radioactive tracers. An ultra-sensitive magnetometer probe designed to be the size of a ball-point pen has evolved from the doctoral work of UniSA researcher, Dr Aidan Cousins with Associate Professor Benjamin Thierry.

With over 50 research centres, University of Adelaide, Adelaide’s oldest university, boasting more than 150 years of excellence that has produced 109 Rhodes Scholars and a NASA astronaut in Andy Thomas, records some impressive numbers with regard to research. It is in the top four in Australia for contract research and commercialisation activity. With 2500 research students and 1700 academic research staff the university had the highest amount of research and development corporation funding in Australia in 2014, generating more than $180 million in research income the same year.


In one of the latest breakthroughs, researchers at the University’s School of Medical Sciences are looking to dramatically reduce the 60-80 per cent of cancer patients having chemotherapy treatment who find the treatment utterly debilitating. Led by PhD student and award-winner Hannah Wardill, the team has identified a single immune receptor as the likely common trigger for two major sources of chemo-related symptoms.

Among other recent research achievements is a new system that can screen for the presence of disease pathogens faster and with consistent results leading to earlier diagnosis. The groundbreaking automation technology developed at the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Visual Technologies (ACVT), will revolutionise the workflow in modern microbiology labs.



Flinders University has become a significant and growing presence in research and innovation in Australia and internationally. It consistently demonstrates research strength across a range of disciplines broadly housed under five research themes of biomedical and clinical sciences, culture, policy and society, health and human behaviour, molecular science and technology and water and environment. The university has a particular focus on robotics and recently purchased, Sawyer, the next-generation smart collaborative robot designed by US company Rethink Robotics. Rethink Robotics is a world-leading technology company founded by Flinders University graduate Professor Rodney Brooks, currently professor of robotics at Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Sawyer joins the Baxter robot already located at Flinders’ robotics and automation lab at the new $120 million building built at Tonsley, 13km from Adelaide and will be used as a demonstration and training model for students and SA industries.The collaborative robots are designed to be programmed to work safely next to people in factories without the need for barriers or metal cages.

Ms Bendell, now based in Sydney, will look to move to Adelaide permanently for her Masters year. “Adelaide has that country feel but it is just big enough to be a city — it’s the complete opposite to Sydney in that regard,” she says. “It has a great cafe culture and fabulous facilities — I love it.”


A modern city of educators

University of Adelaide

Established in 1874, it is the third-oldest university in Australia. World renowned for its medical, science, and law degree courses that have produced alumni including Nobel laureates Lawrence Bragg, Howard Florey and Robin Warren, Prime Minster Julia Gillard and former SA premier Don Dunstan and Premier Jay Weatherill. Research strengths include agriculture, environment, mineral and energy resources, social innovation, and health and biomedical science.



Flinders University

Founded in 1966, and named in honour of navigator Matthew Flinders. A member of the Innovative Research Universities (IRU) Group, Flinders has Australia’s first purpose-built medical facility – the Flinders Medical Centre. It also has a new $120 million Tonsley centre for computer science, engineering and mathematics.  The Flinders Drama Centre acting courses have produced many stars of Australian stage and screen, including Noni Hazelhurst, Scott Hicks and Anthony Maras.



University of South Australia

With more than 32,000 students, it’s SA’s largest university. Its journalism and professional writing degree has produced dozens of quality journalists including former Australian Women’s Weekly editor-in-chief Helen McCabe, former Australian editor Clive Mathewson, ABC’s US bureau chief Zoe Daniel, and Michael Vincent, ABC’s North America correspondent.

The Centre for Cancer Biology is one of the top three cancer research centres in Australia.

SA’s other Universities

Australian Catholic University (ACU) is a national public teaching and research university.

Carnegie Mellon University Australia is the Australian campus of Carnegie Mellon University’s H. John Heinz III College.

Torrens University Australia is a private university with a campus in Adelaide that was opened by former US president Bill Clinton in 2014.

The University of Divinity is an Australian collegiate university.