With a 124-year history that places it as one of the oldest in Australia, Avondale is the first higher education provider to become a university under new national standards.
It is the only addition to the “Australian University” category following a transition on July 1, 2021, to standards introduced by the federal government in February.
The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) 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,” chief commissioner Peter Coaldrake said.
The announcement is evidence of God’s leading, vice-chancellor and president Kevin Petrie said. “I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunity to bring further diversity to the sector, which will benefit students.” And, he adds, “I’m determined to use our new position to transform more lives through Christ-centered higher education. God will continue to bless as we continue to be faithful to His calling.”
Recognizing that the Avondale story “spans the century,” Petrie acknowledged, with appreciation, the contribution “of those who came before and of those who continue to mentor and collaborate with us.”
Avondale’s journey to becoming a university spanned more than 30 years. “It has all been worth it,” chancellor Glenn Townend, president of the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, said. “Avondale as a university will continue to provide graduates and research that blesses the church and the world around us. We thank God.”
Iurii Ponosov, the undergraduate representative on Avondale’s governing council, describes the announcement as “a proud moment.”
“We all look forward to graduating from Australia’s first Adventist university,” he said.
The experience for students like Ponosov will become an even better one because university status “strengthens our ability to provide high-quality, research-informed learning experiences,” provost Kerri-Lee Krause said. Avondale is a leader in delivering strong student outcomes, with national surveys showing levels of satisfaction and employment rates that rank Avondale among the best higher education providers in Australia.
World-standard interdisciplinary research in historic Adventist fields of significance — health and wellbeing, Christian education, biblical studies, and Christian spirituality — “supports the mission of the church and shows we’re here to serve our world for good,” Petrie said. This informs civic engagement and leadership in areas such as pioneering lifestyle medicine interventions and challenging Anzac mythology to better understand the nation’s history.
Avondale’s registration as an Australian university marks the culmination of years of sustained high-quality development. It began in the mid-1970s with accreditation for degree programs and includes two previous applications (1994 and 2006) for university status. By 2012, Avondale had achieved a ratio of research publications per staff member equivalent to the mean across selected Australian universities. It also expanded its program of higher degrees by research. A relationship with mentoring partner Charles Sturt University followed, as did the granting of self-accrediting authority.
Only two years earlier, in 2019, the national regulator approved a change of category application lodged by Avondale from “Higher Education Provider” to “Australian University College.” It was the first time a higher education institution had qualified for a change of category under TEQSA.
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.