‘…a crack brained plan’ thundered the Sydney Morning Herald on 10th September 1958 after the Minister of Education, Mr R.J Heffron, had introduced a Bill into the Legislative Assembly to change the name of the University of Technology to the University of New South Wales and permit it to establish faculties of Medicine, Law and Arts…The Chancellor of the University at the time, Mr. Wallace C Wurth, had also voiced his opinion that the establishment of a medical school would be ‘a sensible thing to do’. Backing this was the Report of the Committee on Australian Universities, known as the Murry Report, delivered in 1957 to the Prime Minister, Mr Robert Menzies which stated: ‘There appears to be every justification for the establishment of a second medical school in New South Wales…there is much to be said for placing this in the NSW University of Technology.’ …Forty Seven of the original students from the class of 1961 graduated. Eleven with honours, seven became professors or associate professors, 23 went on to become well-respected specialists in their field and 15 became practitioners or general physicians. Not a bad return on an investment for a ‘crack brained idea!’

Edited extract from: And Now From The Beginning…The Stories of the pioneer students of the UNSW School of Medicine.

Read more on our UNSW Medicine Pioneers.


UNSW Medicine Timeline

1960   UNSW Medicine is established formally, with five foundation chairs – anatomy, medicine, pathology, physiology and surgery. Prince Henry Hospital is named as the University’s first teaching hospital. (pictured: Wallace Wurth building circa 1966)

1961   The first group of 75 students enrolled in the six-year MBBS program.  The Royal Hospital for Women at Paddington is made a teaching hospital in obstetrics and gynaecology. (St George Hospital, Kogarah, and St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, joined the list of the University’s teaching hospitals. in the next few years)

1962   Postgraduate Committee is formed and a joint fund set up between the University and Prince of Wales and Prince Henry Hospitals to support research and postgraduate instruction in medicine.

1967   Foundation years MBBS students graduate

1970   MBBS enrolments reach full capacity with 895 students.

1974   The six-year undergraduate course is reduced to five-years.

1988   The six-year undergraduate course is reintroduced.

1989   The South Western Sydney Clinical School was established, incorporating Liverpool, Fairfield, and Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospitals.

1990s   Increases in both rural teaching and in the intake of Indigenous and rural students into the undergraduate course, following the establishment of the Rural Health Unit.

2000   The School of Rural Health (now Rural Clinical School) opens with campuses in the NSW Greater Murray.

2002   Rural campuses open on the NSW Mid-North coast.

2004   A new highly integrated, six-year undergraduate Medicine program is introduced.

2010   Lowy Cancer Research Centre, Australasia's first integrated childhood and adult cancer centre officially opens.

2014   The Wallace Wurth building officially reopens, following a major refurbishment. The new building includes new premises for the Kirby Institute. 

Today   UNSW Medicine is one of the world's top 50 medical faculties with eight schools in Sydney, a Rural Clinical School with country campuses across NSW, and close affiliations with some of Australia’s finest hospitals and healthcare organisations.