A New South Wales higher education provider with a 124-year history is the first in Australia to become a university under new national standards.
Avondale University College is the only addition to the “Australian University” category following a transition today to standards introduced by the federal government in February.
The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency congratulated Avondale for achieving the requirements under the revised Higher Education Standards Framework. “Our decision recognizes Avondale’s commitment to student outcomes, its significant research progress and Avondale’s contributions to the communities it serves,” says Chief Commissioner Professor Peter Coaldrake.
The announcement is welcomed with “a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunity to bring further diversity to the sector, which will benefit students,” says Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Kevin Petrie. “I’m determined to use our new position to transform more lives through Christ-centered higher education.” Recognizing the Avondale story “spans the century,” Petrie acknowledges, with appreciation, the contribution “of those who came before and of those who continue to mentor and collaborate with us.”
Becoming a university also “strengthens our ability to provide high-quality, research-informed learning experiences,” says Provost Professor Kerri-Lee Krause. Avondale is a leader in delivering strong student outcomes, with national surveys showing levels of satisfaction and rates of employment that rank Avondale among the best higher education providers in Australia.
World-standard interdisciplinary research in health and wellbeing, education, biblical studies and Christian spirituality “shows we’re here to serve our world for good,” says Petrie. This informs civic engagement and leadership in areas such as pioneering lifestyle medicine interventions and challenging Anzac mythology to better understand our nation’s history. As Lake Macquarie’s only university and as an affiliate of the largest private and not-for-profit hospital in the state, “we pride ourselves on combining educational excellence with a longstanding commitment to improving higher education access and to meeting the needs of our community,” says Krause.
Avondale’s registration as an Australian university comes on the day the revised Higher Education Standards Framework begins. The framework incorporates Coaldrake’s 2019 review of Provider Category Standards. The reforms, he says, will “support greater provider diversity, with a focus on embedding excellence across Australia’s evolving higher education landscape.”
Established in 1897, Avondale is a member of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist system of universities and colleges and has graduated more than 12,000 students who serve largely in people-helping professions. The Lake Macquarie campus is in Cooranbong. The Sydney campus in Wahroonga is on the grounds of Sydney Adventist Hospital.
Image: Avondale students react to the new university status.