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James Cook University

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

James Cook University
James Cook University Armorial Ensigns.png
Coat of Arms of James Cook University
Former names
University College of Townsville (1961-70), James Cook University of North Queensland (1970-98)
MottoCrescente Luce
Motto in English
Light ever increasing
ChancellorBill Tweddell
Vice-ChancellorSandra Harding AO
Undergraduates13,098 (2021)
Postgraduates5,193 (2021)
Location, ,


19°19′40″S 146°45′30″E / 19.32778°S 146.75833°E / -19.32778; 146.75833
CampusSuburban and regional
Logotype of James Cook University.svg

James Cook University (JCU) is a public university in North Queensland, Australia. The second oldest university in Queensland, JCU is a teaching and research institution. The university's main campuses are located in the tropical cities of Cairns and Townsville, and one in the city state of Singapore. JCU also has study centres in Mount Isa, Mackay, Thursday Island[2] and Rockhampton.[3] A Brisbane campus, operated by Russo Higher Education, delivers undergraduate and postgraduate courses to international and domestic students. The university's main fields of research include environmental sciences, biological sciences, mathematical sciences, earth sciences, agricultural and veterinary sciences, technology and medical and health sciences.[4]


James Cook University, Cairns
James Cook University, Cairns

In 1957, Professor John Douglas Story, vice chancellor of the University of Queensland, proposed a regional university college be established to cater to the people of North Queensland. At that time, the only higher education providers were located in the state capital, Brisbane. On 27 February 1961, the University College of Townsville was opened.

After being proclaimed as an Act of Queensland Parliament, the University College of Townsville became James Cook University of North Queensland. The official opening of the university was conducted by Queen Elizabeth II on 20 April 1970.[5] The namesake is British sea captain James Cook, who is best known for being the first European to explore the eastern coast of Australia. A year after JCU's proclamation, Cyclone Althea struck the Townsville region. This, together with the destruction caused by Cyclone Tracy in Darwin 1974, prompted the establishment of a cyclone research facility.[5][6] The Cyclone Testing Station started out as a small project of Professor Hugh Trollope and began its operations on 1 November 1977 as James Cook Cyclone Structural Testing Station.[6] Its name was later changed to The Cyclone Testing Station in 2002.[7] The Cyclone Testing Station operates as a self funded unit of the College of Science, Technology and Engineering.

On 1 January 1982, JCU amalgamated with The Townsville College of Advanced Education located adjacent to the main campus in Douglas.[8] The university established a campus in Cairns in 1987 which moved to its current location in the suburb of Smithfield in 1995. On 1 January 1991, the School of Art and Design of the Townsville College of TAFE was transferred to JCU.[9] The current name of James Cook University became official on 1 January 1998.[10] In 2003 the university opened an international campus in Singapore. The university further expanded its presence by establishing another campus in Brisbane, Queensland in 2006.

JCU Singapore moved campuses in February 2015.[11] The Hon. Tony Abbott MP, Prime Minister of Australia officially opened the new JCU Singapore campus at 149 Sims Drive on 28 June 2015.[12] In 2015, JCU opened the JCU Townsville City campus.[13] In 2017, JCU opened the JCU Cairns, Bada-jali campus in Cairns CBD.[14]

JCU celebrated its 50th anniversary on 20 April 2020. To honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ continuing contribution to the University, JCU gave Indigenous names to a number of its locations:

  • The Townsville (Douglas) campus was named Bebegu Yumba, meaning ‘Place of Learning’ in the Birri-Gubba language.[15]
  • The Cairns (Smithfield) campus was named Nguma-bada, meaning 'Place for tomorrow's learning, knowledge and wisdom' from the Yirrgay (Yirrganydji) coastal dialect of Djabugay.[16]
  • The Cairns City campus has been named Bada-jali, meaning ‘Flowering of the Cocky Apple tree: Place and time for new beginnings and growth', from the Yirrgay (Yirrganydji) coastal dialect of Djabugay.[17]
  • The Mount Isa campus was named Murtupuni, meaning ‘to come together, gather together’ in the Kalkadoon language.[18]

Indigenous language names will also be announced for JCU's Mackay and Thursday Island campuses.

Coat of Arms

As a corporate body, James Cook University bears arms comprising four main elements – shield, crest (Captain James Cook's ship, HMS Endeavour, in full sail), supporters (a pair of brolgas with open wings), and motto.

The university motto is Cresente Luce, which means light ever increasing. This motto was first proposed by Professor Frederick Walter Robinson (Doc Robbie), professor of English at the University of Queensland, in 1962 for the then University College of Townsville. The university college was established as a college of the University of Queensland. Adopted in 1963, the motto remained unchanged after James Cook University of North Queensland was established and incorporated in April 1970, and later became James Cook University.

Campuses and other facilities

James Cook University operates three main campuses, located in the tropical cities of Cairns and Townsville in Australia, and the international city of Singapore. JCU's Brisbane campus offers courses for international and domestic students. The university also operates study centres in Mackay, Mount Isa, Thursday Island and Rockhampton. These study centres provide programs and support for students living in rural and remote areas.

JCU Cairns, Nguma-bada Campus, Smithfield

JCU's Cairns, Nguma-bada campus is located 15 kilometres north of the Cairns central business district, in the suburb of Smithfield. JCU moved to this location from its original inner-city site in 1995. About 3,000 students study at JCU Cairns, Nguma-bada campus, Smithfield, including 335 international students. Located on the campus grounds are the Australian Tropical Herbarium (ATH), JCU Dental and The Cairns Institute.

The JCU Ideas Lab was completed in July, 2020.[19] The $30M eco-friendly building brings together students, staff and community entrepreneurs to progress Internet of Things Engineering and data science.

A second campus, JCU Cairns, Bada-jali campus, is located in Cairns' CBD. The campus delivers a diverse range of progressive facilities and services for the university.

JCU Townsville, Bebegu Yumba Campus, Douglas

JCU's Townsville, Bebegu Yumba campus is the university's largest campus and is located on 386 hectares in the suburb of Douglas, near the army base and the lee of Mount Stuart. Originally located in the suburb of Pimlico, the university moved to its current site in 1967. Over 10,000 students study at the JCU Townsville, Bebegu Yumba campus, including over 1,300 international students. Adjacent to the university is the Townsville Hospital.

The Discovery Rise[20] project was announced in September 2007.[21] The $1 billion project, aimed at redeveloping the university's Townsville campus, was completed in 2015.[22][23] The Eddie Koiki Mabo Library (built in 1968 and extended in 1990) has received the 25 Year Architecture Award presented by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects – Queensland Chapter.[24] It also has been recognised as one of Australia's ten most iconic buildings alongside structures as the Sydney Opera House and the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.[25][26]

In 2015, the JCU Townsville City campus was opened in Townsville's CBD on Flinders Street. The campus delivers a diverse range of progressive facilities and services for the university, business and community organisations.

Construction of the Technology Innovation Complex (TIC) began in March 2021. The 94m, 9,400sqm facility "will be the centrepiece of an innovation hub in which undergraduate and post-graduate engineering and IT students, industry partners and researchers will converge and collaborate".[27]

TropiQ, Townsville’s Tropical Intelligence and Health Precinct, is “a community dedicated to helping the world access, understand and benefit from breakthroughs and solutions in health and tropical science".[28] Located on the Bebegu Yumba campus at JCU Townsville, it was developed in partnership between JCU, Townsville Hospital and Health Service and Townsville City Council.[29]

Singapore International Campus

James Cook University's Singapore campus (JCUS) was opened in 2003. In January 2015, James Cook University Singapore relocated to a new campus at 149 Sims Drive, ceasing operations at its previous campus on Upper Thomson Road, where it had been operating since July 2008.[30] In 2020 there were 3644 students studying with JCU Singapore. Courses offered include business, education, information technology, psychology, environmental science, and tourism and hospitality, to international and domestic students. All degrees awarded are accredited by JCU Australia.[31] Unlike its parent institution in Australia, James Cook University Singapore is classified as a private institution under the Ministry of Education's Private Education Act and is accredited by both EduTrust and the Council for Private Education. JCUS was awarded two consecutive "Edutrust Star" ratings by EduTrust in 2015 and 2019, the first private school to attain this benchmark.[32][33]

Other facilities: Brisbane, Mackay, Mount Isa, Thursday Island, Rockhampton

JCU Brisbane, operated by Russo Higher Education, delivers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in accounting, business, education, hospitality and tourism and information technology to international and domestic students.

JCU's Mackay Education and Research Centre (MERC) is a study centre located at the Mackay Base Hospital. It offers the Bachelor of Nursing Science (Pre-Registration) and provides facilities for medical and dental placements.

JCU's Mount Isa, Murtupuni campus provides training, development and support of the rural and remote health workforce and the management of key health issues in rural and remote settings. The centre offers the Bachelor of Nursing Science with an emphasis on rural, remote and Indigenous health care.

JCU Rockhampton is located in a modern high rise building in the city. Postgraduate students can access the facilities as part of JCU’s GP Training Program. The JCU GP Training Program "provides clinicians the opportunity to expand their scope of practice through working in private clinics and in hospitals where they will gain experience treating a range of conditions in low-resource settings".[34]

There is also a study centre located in the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) building on Thursday Island, providing teaching and learning facilities for nursing, education and diploma of higher education students in the Torres Strait region, including the northern tip of Australia. The Thursday Island study centre opened in 2003.


In 2021, JCU's student population was at 17,001, which includes 4,289 International students.

In 2001 the university took in its first medical students in its newly formed School of Medicine. An undergraduate veterinary degree was added to the university for the first time in 2006 and in 2009 the Bachelor of Dental Surgery commenced. Today the university offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in science, including marine biology and environmental science; arts, humanities and social work; business, law and governance; creative media; education; engineering and planning; healthcare, rehabilitation and psychology; medicine, dentistry and pharmacy; public health; and veterinary science. Many courses are available online.

In 2007 James Cook University became a member of Innovative Research Universities Australia (now called Innovative Research Universities). Innovative Research Universities (IRU) is a network of seven comprehensive universities committed to conducting research of national and international standing.

The library at Douglas Campus
The library at Douglas Campus
University Drive at Douglas Campus
University Drive at Douglas Campus


University rankings
James Cook University
QS World[35]462
THE World[36]201-250
ARWU World[37]301-400
US News World[38]287=
Australian rankings
QS National[35]25
THE National[39]13=
ARWU National[40]16-22
US News National[41]19
CWTS Leiden National[42]22
ERA National[43]22

In 2015, JCU Singapore earned the distinction of being the first private education institution to attain the EduTrust Star quality mark from the Singapore Government.

In 2021, JCU was ranked within the top 250 academic universities worldwide by the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings and has held this ranking since 2018. JCU has consistently ranked in the top 400 since 2010, as measured by the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).[44] In 2017, JCU was ranked No. 1 in the world for Marine & Freshwater Biology and No. 2 in the world for Biodiversity Conservation by the Centre for World University Rankings (CWUR).

In 2020, JCU was ranked 29th of the world's universities aged 50 years or younger in the Times Higher Education (THE) Best Young Universities in the World.

JCU was awarded five stars for full-time employment, skills development, student support, learner engagement and social equity by the 2021 Good Universities Guide.[45]

In the Commonwealth Government's Excellence in Research for Australia 2018 National Report,[46] JCU research was rated world-class or above in 83% of research fields evaluated, up from 78% in 2015. This included the highest possible rating of well above world standard in 8 research areas and world standard in another 30 research areas.

Residential colleges

St Marks' College
St Marks' College
University Hall
University Hall

James Cook University's Townsville, Bebegu Yuma campus, situated in the suburb of Douglas, has five on-campus residential halls and colleges, which can accommodate 1,158 students. Services offered by these facilities vary from self-catered to fully catered. James Cook University's Cairns, Nguma-bada campus, situated in the outer northern suburb of Smithfield, has one on-campus self-catered residential hall, John Grey Hall, which can accommodate 287 students, and one off-campus, fully-catered student lodge for 221 students.


Affiliated colleges

Saints Catholic College, first founded in 1964 and run by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Townsville, was formed in 2011 with the amalgamation of the Catholic Colleges of St Raphael and St Paul and the addition of a third wing, St Mary MacKillop Wing, in honour of Australia's first Saint.[47] Saints Catholic College provides fully catered accommodation to 296 students.[48] Saint Mark's College, run by the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland, accommodated 154 male and female students until its closure in 2017 due to financial difficulties.[49] The John Flynn College was established in 1968 and is named after Australian Presbyterian minister John Flynn.[50] The college provides fully catered accommodation for more than 253 students.

Halls of Residence

James Cook University manages three non-denominational halls in Townsville for 609 students. University Hall was the first residence to be established at the university in the 1960s and currently offers 241 fully catered rooms. University Hall opened for student accommodation in 1967 as a co-educational hall of residence and lays claim to being the first co-educational university hall of residence in Australia. George Roberts Hall opened in 2002 with unit-style, fully-catered accommodation for 250 students.[51] Rotary International House, containing 118 self-catered beds, was established in 1990 with the assistance of Rotary Clubs. Western Halls and Western Courts, former Halls of Residence colleges, closed in 2008 and 2018 respectively.


John Grey Hall

John Grey Hall, named after Lt. Gen. John Grey, opened in 2018 to meet the need for on-campus accommodation in Cairns. The residential hall, which is managed by UniLodge, accommodates 287 students in self-catered accommodation with plans to expand to accommodate 1000 students.[52]

Cairns Student Lodge

The Cairns Student Lodge is located directly through the underpass across the highway and is an eight minute walk to the JCU Cairns, Nguma-bada campus. The lodge provides fully-catered accommodation for 221 students.


Peter Ridd intellectual freedom proceedings

In November 2017, marine physicist Peter Ridd commenced proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court against the university alleging that by censuring and eventually dismissing him from his employment, JCU had breached the intellectual freedom provision in its enterprise agreement, in violation of the Fair Work Act. Ridd was a long-term professor who had been the head of the physics department from 2009 to 2016, and head of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at JCU for 15 years. He had been critical of the accuracy of studies by the JCU marine studies centre.[53][54] JCU maintained that "it had never sought to silence Ridd, and his sacking was due to 'serious misconduct' and breaches of the university's code".[55]

Following a hearing, the Federal Circuit Court found that that the university's actions were unlawful,[56] and in September 2019 ordered JCU to pay $1.2 million in compensation to Ridd.[57] The Court found that JCU had failed to respect the rights to intellectual freedom under its enterprise agreement.[58]

In July 2020, a Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia overturned the Federal Circuit Court's decision, finding that JCU's actions did not breach the Fair Work Act. In February 2021, the High Court of Australia granted special leave to Ridd to appeal the decision. The High Court is due to hear the matter in June 2021.[59][60]

Reports of on-campus sexual harassment and assault

Under a 2016 FOI request, between 2011 and 2016 there were 9 officially reported cases of sexual abuse and harassment on campus, resulting in no expulsions, no suspensions and 1 person removed from a college. This included a report in 2015 where three males attempted to gang-rape a female student.[61]

In 2015 the university promoted a staff member from research officer to academic adviser after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a student. The acting vice-chancellor claimed "there has been a failure of our internal processes"[62] and "if senior management had been aware that (the staff member had) pleaded guilty he would have been immediately dismissed". News Limited published findings contradicting the university's claims alleging that senior management, including the vice-chancellor and the university secretary, were made aware of the guilty plea at the time and prior to the perpetrator's promotion.[63]

University Hall fire and housing crisis

In the early hours of 4 April 2019, a large fire broke out in the A Wing of University Hall requiring the evacuation of over 200 students.[64] There were no serious injuries, although several students were treated for smoke inhalation.[65] Immediately following the fire, the university rushed to find emergency housing for the residents affected. The renovation of the closed Clark Wing at St. Mark's College and construction of the new 'The Village' housing precinct began, and provided replacement housing for all residents from the A and B Wings of University Hall.[66]

Scientific misconduct

An investigation by the UK scientific journal Nature published on 8 January 2020, found that eight JCU studies on the effect of climate change on coral reef fish, one of the studies of which was authored by the JCU educated discredited scientist Oona Lönnstedt, had a 100 percent replication failure and thus none of the findings of the original eight studies were found to be correct.[67] Concerns raised about a study Lönnstedt published while at JCU included an improbable number of lionfish claimed to have been used in this study, and images of 50 fish provided which clearly appeared to include multiple images of some biological specimens, and two images that had been flipped making two fish appear to be four.[68][69]

A further investigative team of seven scientists led by an aquatic physiologist from Victoria's Deakin University conducted an investigation into the discredited scientist educated at JCU between 2010 and 2014, biologist Oona Lönnstedt, who was undertaking PhD studies at the Queensland institution.[70] The investigation was launched after Dr Lönnstedt had been found guilty of fabricating data underpinning a study at a Swedish university following her departure from JCU.[70]

Claims of scientific fraud

In May 2021, the American publication Science Magazine had made claims in relation to scientific fraud involving 22 papers linked to James Cook University’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. The Australian Research Council, the US National Science Foundation and JCU had been asked to investigate the allegations. The article supported by the international Science Fund for Investigative Reporting, is the culmination of years of research and contested claims over how fish behaviour is changed by rising levels of carbon dioxide in the oceans. Researchers claimed to have evidence of manipulation in publicly available raw data files for two papers, one published in Science Magazine, the other in Nature Climate Change, combined with large and “statistically impossible” effects from CO2 reported in many of the other papers.[71][72]

Notable alumni and staff

This is a list of alumni and former faculty and staff of James Cook University, including preceding institutions such as Townsville University College and Townsville College of Advanced Education.

Notable alumni

Recipients of honorary degrees include:

  • Tommy George, awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters for his work in ecology
  • David Hudson, Aboriginal musician
  • Silma Ihram, pioneer of Muslim education in Australia
  • George Musgrave, awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters for his work in traditional law
  • Percy Trezise, awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters in recognition of outstanding service to the community of Far North Queensland
  • Eddie Mabo, awarded an honorary Doctorate of the University for his efforts in improving the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Notable faculty and staff

  • Alexandra Aikhenvald, member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities
  • Robert M. W. Dixon, professor of linguistics at the Cairns Institute and member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities
  • Terry Hughes, member of the Australian Academy of Science
  • Rhondda Jones, former professor of zoology and member of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE)
  • George Kneipp, chancellor (1974–1993)
  • William F. Laurance, biologist, recipient of the Australian Laureate Fellowship and member of the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • Leonard Francis Lindoy (adjunct), chemist, professor emeritus and member of the Australian Academy of Science
  • Eddie Mabo, indigenous community leader and human rights activist, was employed at JCU as a gardener/groundsman between 1967 and 1971[79]
  • Christopher Margules (adjunct), College of Science & Engineering

See also


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External links

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