James Cook University

James Cook University

James Cook University Details

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One of the world’s leading institutions focusing on the tropics, Australia’s James Cook University is surrounded by the spectacular ecosystems of the rainforests of the Wet tropics, the dry savannahs, and the iconic Great Barrier Reef. Our unique location enables students from Australia and overseas to study in a diverse physical environment unparalleled by any university in the world.

Born for the tropics

Ranked in the top 2 percent of the world’s tertiary institutions by the respected Academic Ranking of World Universities produced by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, James Cook University is dedicated to creating a brighter future for life in the tropics world-wide, through graduates and discoveries that make a difference.

Dedicated to research

The University conducts nationally significant and internationally recognised research in areas such as marine sciences, biodiversity, tropical ecology and environments, global warming, tourism, and tropical medicine and public health care in under-served populations.

A comprehensive university

Since our establishment in 1970, we have expanded into a multi-campus institutionwith our main campuses in the tropical cities of Cairns, Singapore and Townsville, with smaller study centres in Mount Isa, Thursday Island and Mackay. We also have a campus in Brisbane, operated by Russo Higher Education.

Our students come from many backgrounds, promoting a rich cultural and experiential diversity on campus. Our undergraduate and postgraduate coursesspan the Arts, Biomedical Sciences, Business, Creative Media, Dentistry, Education, Engineering, Healthcare Sciences, Information Technology, Law, Medicine, Nursing and Midwifery, Pharmacy, Planning, Psychological Science, Science, Social Work, Sustainability and Veterinary Science. We aim to give graduates the qualifications and skills they need for the global workforce.

Relevant to our region

We also recognise our special obligation to be relevant to our own region and have forged close linkages into the economy and social fabric of the northern Queensland. We are dedicated to ensuring that our teaching, learning and research is not only of high quality, but also delivers practical benefits to the peoples and industries of the region.

Statement of Strategic Intent

Creating a brighter future for life in the tropics world-wide through graduates and discoveries that make a difference.

Comprehensive, but focussed

We are a comprehensive University. Our teaching and research focuses on four themes:

  • Tropical Ecosystems and Environment
  • Industries and Economies in the Tropics
  • Peoples and Societies in the Tropics
  • Tropical Health, Medicine and Biosecurity.

Place is powerful

The Tropics is our place: a vast geographic area that Aristotle called the Torrid Zone. Our three tropical campuses are complemented and extended by regional and remote study centres and research stations.

Students are at the heart of our University and we inspire them to make a difference in their fields of endeavour and in their communities by:

  • Delivering high quality teaching and learning programs in a research-rich environment, and
  • Fostering their professional expertise and intellectual curiosity. Our world-class research generates new knowledge and understanding to meet the challenges facing the peoples of the tropics.

Diversity and reconciliation

Embracing the diversity of the communities we serve in two countries, we work with them to create opportunities and enduring benefits for our region and beyond.

Acknowledging the First Nation peoples of the world, their rich cultures and their knowledge of the natural environment, we pay particular respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of Australia.

We are pledged to achieve genuine and sustainable reconciliation between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider community.


Committed to the principles of sustainability, we will ensure that our actions today do not limit the range of social, cultural, environmental and economic options open to future generations.

Values and Beliefs

Our actions are underpinned by our values and beliefs:


  • Excellence
  • Authenticity
  • Integrity
  • Sustainability
  • Mutual Respect
  • Discovery


  • We recognise that knowledge has the power to change lives
  • We ignite and support a passion for learning in our community
  • We are enriched by and celebrate our communities’ diversity
  • We understand that a sustainable environment is central to our lives and our work
  • We uphold our commitments.

An international University as reflected in our people, our places, and our research, we take quiet pride in being recognised as a leading tertiary institution in Australia, our Asia-Pacific region and among the universities of the world.

Schools / Colleges / Departments / Courses / Faculties

Division of Tropical Environments and Societies

  • College of Arts, Society and Education
    • Arts
    • Creative Media
    • Education
    • Social Science
    • Social Work
  • College of Business, Law and Governance
    • Accounting
    • Economics and Marketing
    • Governance and Management
    • Information Technology
    • Law
    • Tourism
  • College of Marine and Environmental Sciences
    • Aquaculture and Fisheries
    • Environmental Geography and Sustainability
    • Marine Biology
    • Terrestrial Ecosystems
  • College of Science, Technology and Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Earth Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Physical Sciences

Division of Tropical Health and Medicine

  • College of Medicine and Dentistry
    • Medicine
    • Dentistry
    • Pharmacy
  • College of Healthcare Sciences
    • Clinical Exercise Physiology and Sport and Exercise Science
    • Nursing and Midwifery
    • Occupational Therapy
    • Physiotherapy
    • Psychology
    • Speech Pathology
  • College of Public Health, Medical & Veterinary Sciences
    • Biomedical Sciences
    • Medical Laboratory Sciences
    • Veterinary Science
  • Indigenous Health Unit

Division Global Strategy and Engagement

Division of Research and Innovation

Division of Services and Resources


Born of the traditional model of excellence in teaching and research, James Cook University has become a modern and dynamic university of truly global standing. Our graduates hold top-level positions around Australia and the world, and our research has earned us a worldclass reputation.

JCU is Queensland’s second oldest university. We offered our first courses in Townsville in 1961 as an annex of the University of Queensland. Since then we have become a dynamic, multi-campus university with a total of 17,500 students. Our main campuses are located in Townsville and Cairns, and we have international campuses in Singapore and Brisbane.

After a decade under the stewardship of the University of Queensland, JCU became a university in its own right on 20 April 1970. The proclamation was signed by Queen Elizabeth II at a special ceremony in Townsville, which took place 200 years, to the day, after the University’s namesake, explorer Captain James Cook, first sighted Australia.


Professor J.D Story, Vice Chancellor of the University of Queensland proposes a regional university college be established.

11 October


University of Queensland Senate recommends a regional university be established.

12 October


The Hon Jack Pizzey, Queensland Minister for Education, announces in Cairns that the Queensland government will open a University College in Townsville.



The North Queensland University Association was formed to raise £50,000 to establish two residential hostels, scholarships and to provide library facilities. Donations came from Cairns, Mackay, Cardwell, Innisfail, Charters Towers, Bowen and from a number of local firms and clubs in North Queensland.

19 May


State Cabinet announces that a University College will be established at Townsville under the auspices of the University of Queensland

21 May


Foundation stone laid at Pimlico site by Hon JCA Pizzey, Minister for Education. This is now the Barrier Reef Institute of TAFE Pimlico campus.



The Queensland government negotiated with the Federal government for the Stuart Migrant Centre to be used as a hostel for 35 male students. ‘Duncragan’ on Melton Hill was made available by the state government for 20 female students.

1 January


Dr Frank Olsen commences as Warden of the University College of Townsville.

27 February


University College of Townsville officially opened by Premier of Queensland, Hon GFR Nicklin. There were 105 students.



Prime Minister, Rt Hon. R.G. Menzies visits the Pimlico campus.

21 June


Townsville City Council decided to offer the state government by way of gift through the University of Queensland, an area of approximately 400 acres of land on the southern side of the Ross River to be used exclusively for University purposes. Council also recommended that CSIRO by way of gift be offered approximately 50 acres of land owned by the Council in the same way.



Townsville City Council offers the state government a gift of 50 acres as a site for Teachers Training College. Council’s preference was for this to be in close proximity to University and CSIRO to foster collaboration.

8 December


Dr Ken Back appointed Warden.


CSIRO research station opens near the proposed site of the Douglas Campus.

29 July


Hon. Harold E Holt, Prime Minister of Australia laid the foundation stone of Uni Halls


First buildings occupied at Douglas Campus.



Townsville Teacher’s College commences operation.

10 December


Qld Parliament passes James Cook University of North Queensland Bill 1970.

20 April


James Cook University of North Queensland proclaimed.

Tom Priestley elected Chairman of University Council.

Dr Ken Back appointed Vice-Chancellor.

15 April


Tom Priestley retires.

16 April


Sir George Fisher elected Chancellor.

24 December


Cyclone Althea hits Townsville.


Research Vessel RV James Kirby launched.

13 June


AIMS established at Cape Ferguson.

15 April


Sir George Fisher retires.

2 May


Sir George Kneipp elected Chancellor.

8-13 August


JCU holds first Open Week.


Orpheus Island Marine Research Station established.


Fletcherview purchased as Tropical Veterinary Science Field Station.


Pimlico campus vacated.


JCU amalgamates with Townsville College of Advanced Education (Townsville Teachers College.


Sir George Fisher Centre for Tropical Marine Science established.

31 January


Professor Ken Back resigns as Vice-Chancellor.

18 July


Professor Ray Golding appointed Vice-Chancellor.


Cairns Campus opens.


Establishment of JCU’s Tropical Health Surveillance Unit


Name of Tropical Health Surveillance Unit changed to theAnton Breinl Centre for Tropical Health and Medicine


Institute of Advanced Education disbanded. School of Education formed within James Cook University. Institute’s buildings become Western Campus.


Mackay Campus opened.

15 February


Sir George Kneipp dies.

4 March


John Williams appointed Chancellor.



Sir George Kneipp Auditorium opens.


Cairns Campus relocates to current Smithfield site.

25 July


Professor Ray Golding retires as Vice-Chancellor.

25 July


Dr Martyn Forrest appointed Vice-Chancellor.

14 January


Dr Martyn Forrest resigns as Vice-Chancellor.

4 April


Professor Ken McKinnon appointed Interim Vice-Chancellor

15 December


Professor Bernard Moulden appointed Vice-Chancellor.



Parliament passes James Cook University Act 1997.


Name changed to James Cook University.


Funding announced for Medical School.

7 March


John Williams retires as Chancellor.

23 March


Lt-Gen John Grey AC appointed Chancellor.


James Cook University Medical School opened.


Thursday Island campus established.


JCU commences operations in Singapore.



JCU named in the top 500 Universities in the World according to the Shanghai Jiao Tong world ranking.



JCU Brisbane campus opened.

17 December


Professor Bernard Moulden resigns as Vice-Chancellor.

15 January


Professor Sandra Harding commences as Vice-Chancellor & President.

21 May


JCU launches its Reconciliation Statement and names the library the “Eddie Koiki Mabo Library”.



JCU Singapore relocates to Upper Thompson Road site.

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