On 15 May, 1989, Bond University welcomed the first cohort of 322 students to its brand new, state-of-the-art campus on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
As Australia’s first private, not-for-profit university, the vision was for Bond to offer an exclusive educational experience of the highest international standards, where students from around the world would be mentored in small class groups by renowned academics and high-profile industry leaders.
When those foundation students graduated as the Class of 1989, they were quickly recruited by Australia’s most successful corporations and their subsequent achievements in the workplace firmly established Bond’s reputation for excellence.
During the past 30 years, Bond University has become one of Australia’s leading tertiary institutions, renowned for its expertise in study areas ranging from business, law, medicine, architecture, and data analytics, to film and television, communication, sports management, and occupational therapy.
Bond is Australia’s #1 university for student experience for 16 years.* In 2018, 2019 and 2020, Australian employers said they were more satisfied with Bond graduates than those from any other university.
Bond has achieved far beyond all expectations, meeting every challenge with the unbridled spirit of determination and innovation that has characterised its rich and colourful history.
* Good Universities Guide 2006 - 2022
As an institution, Bond is still young, but it has a unique, rich and proud history. Take a scroll through the past three decades...
On 3 July, 1986, businessman Alan Bond announces plans to develop Australia’s first private, not-for-profit, fully independent university on a Gold Coast site known as Burleigh Forest.
Bond University of Applied Technology, as it was originally known, would be funded by a joint venture between Bond Corporation Holdings and Japanese development company, EIE, as part of a broad-based academic, commercial and residential precinct.
The concept, developed by a small group of political, business and community leaders, was to create a unique learning experience modelled on the world’s leading private universities and ivy league colleges. Classes would be smaller, facilities would be world class and leading academics would be drawn from across the globe.
1987 – 1988
On 23 April, 1987, the Bond University Act is passed by the Queensland Government, securing the University’s status as a fully independent tertiary institution. Coordinator General for Queensland Sir Sydney Schubert will serve as Chancellor, and Professor Don Watts takes the reins as Bond’s inaugural Vice Chancellor in July 1987.
Construction of the campus begins in late September and continues through the two wettest years recorded on the Gold Coast. The University’s earliest staff call themselves the ‘Gumboot Brigade’ as they slosh through the mud on campus. Tragically, the foundation Dean of Business, Steve Johnson, drowns in a flash flood in Mudgeeraba Creek just days before the first students arrive.
Dr John Kearney AM QC and Dr Allison Kearney join Friends of Bond and become lifelong supporters of the University.
Matthew Wiseman (BCom) is the first undergraduate student to be officially offered a place at Bond University.
On 15 May, 1989, 322 students arrive at Bond University to begin undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the Faculties of Business, Humanities and Social Sciences, Science and Technology, and Law.
The campus continues to take shape with the completion of the Student Centre, the main library and Lake Orr. The Bond University Rugby Union Football Club is established, and the English Language Institute (BUELI) opens off campus in Surfers Paradise with 23 students.
Catherine Fitzgerald is the first student to enrol in Australia’s 21st university.
The first major scholarship to Bond University was donated by the Neumann family for the study of Asian languages.
1990 – 1993
On 3 May, 1990, the first cohort of nine MBA students graduate at a ceremony in the Princeton Room attended by 500 VIP guests. By the time the first 75 undergraduates celebrate their graduation in 1991, student enrolments have grown to more than 1,000.
In the background, however, the joint venture partners are in financial trouble. In 1992, the University breaks even financially for the first time, but after Bond Corporation sells its shares to EIE, the Japanese company also goes into receivership, setting up a battle for the University’s survival that will last until the end of the decade.
In 1992, Marcia Sullivan becomes Bond’s first Indigenous Scholarship graduate. In that same year, swimmers Andrew Baildon, Chris Fydler and Jon Sieben are the first Bond students to represent Australia at the Olympic Games in Barcelona.
The University continues to expand its program offerings with the introduction of new study areas such as criminology and film and television. The Bond University Film and Television Awards (BUFTA) are launched to encourage Year 11 and 12 students to enrol in the new Bachelor of Film and Television by making their own short films.
Bond’s law and accounting programs are ranked number one in Australia and a team of MBA students take top honours in the 1994 International Entrepreneurial Moot Competition against the likes of Harvard, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University.
Meanwhile, EIE receivers put the campus land and buildings up for sale and Bond University gains a three-year tenancy.
By Bond’s fifth anniversary, enrolments have risen to 1,349 full-time students, hailing from all over Australia and 30 countries.
On 13 August, 1999, Bond’s tenth anniversary year is capped off with the news that Bond University Limited has purchased the 50ha site and campus buildings for $65 million.
2000 – 2003
The resolution of Bond’s ownership is a major turning point in the University’s history, ushering in a new era of growth and development.
In 2000, the milestone of 5,000 alumni is reached and enrolments exceed 2,000 for the first time. A strategic plan focuses on a new Institute of Health Sciences with a view to introduce an undergraduate medical degree.
2004 – 2006
The launch of Bond’s new ‘blue sky’ branding and imagery sets the tone for a major period of growth for the University.
In 2004, the Australian Medical Council approves Bond’s undergraduate Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery – Australia’s first private medical degree – with the new medical school established by one of the world’s leading evidence-based medical practitioners. Prime Minister John Howard officiates at the opening of the $20 million Bond University Medical School building in April 2006, by which time the new Faculty of Health Science and Medicine is up and running, with programs in exercise science, sports science, and the full range of biomedical and health sciences.
The Business Faculty is re-launched as a ‘super faculty’ combining business, technology and the new School of Sustainable Development – the first designated planning and design school in Australia to fully integrate environmental, urban planning and architectural disciplines.
A reinvigorated focus on research sees external research funding triple and the number of higher degree by research (HDR) students increase by 65 per cent in just two years.
The Career Development Centre gets a makeover, and Bond College is launched to provide pathway programs into Bond University degrees.
Bond’s film and television students dominate the 20th Annual Queensland New Filmmakers Awards in 2006, winning seven out of the 17 awards.
2007 – 2008
The decision to extend FEE-HELP to Bond students in 2007 finally puts the University on a level playing field with public sector institutions as Bond students are granted access to help finance their studies.
In 2007, Bond is ranked equal best university in Australia by the independent publishers of the Good Universities Guide, scoring the maximum five-star rating in nine key student experience categories.
The University continues to expand its degree offerings in response to industry demand: Australia’s first Doctor of Physiotherapy program, a new Master of High Performance Science focusing on elite athletes, and undergraduate and postgraduate offerings in hotel, resort and tourism management; computer games; multimedia; and architecture.
The campus continues to grow, too, with the multi-million-dollar Legal Skills Centre opening in 2007, incorporating a state-of-the-art moot court modelled on the High Court of Australia. Other new facilities include the Macquarie Trading Room, the Balnaves Foundation Multimedia Learning Centre, the ADCO Amphitheatre and Alumni Court, and the Bond University Institute for Sport (BUIS) Research Centre at Robina.
In August 2008, Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard opens the Mirvac School of Sustainable Development building. It is the first building in Australia to achieve a six Green Star – Education PILOT Certificate Rating for Design by the Green Building Council of Australia.
2009 – 2011
In 2009, the inaugural cohort of medical students graduates and every one of them secures an internship.
Bond’s Sustainable Development Building wins the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ Global Award for Sustainability.
Long-time Bond supporter and art patron Dr Patrick Corrigan facilitates an auction of Indigenous art in 2010, raising funds to support a small number of scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
Bond law teams win a series of prestigious international mooting competitions, cementing Bond’s reputation as one of the world’s leading advocacy teaching universities, while the 2011 Australian Financial Review BOSS rankings lists Bond in the top 10 MBA programs in Australia.
2012 – 2016
A commitment to closing the gap on educational disadvantage for Australia’s First Nations people inspires a formal Indigenous Education Strategy involving scholarships, specialised student support, on-campus cultural awareness, and community outreach.
In 2012, Bond opens the Nyombil Centre, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students can study, socialise and network with other Indigenous students, and seek advice from staff.
Between 2012 and 2017, 67 Indigenous students from all over Australia are presented with scholarships to study at Bond University and Indigenous student enrolments more than double.
Dr Corrigan’s art auction evolves into the annual Indigenous Gala, attracting more than 500 attendees and raising much-needed funds to support Bond’s Indigenous education initiatives over the five-year period.
In 2012, the Alumni Awards are launched. David Baxby (LLB/BCom), then co-CEO of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, flies in from Switzerland to receive the inaugural Robert Stable Alumni Medal.
Bond University goes from strength to strength with more recognition on the international stage.
Bond Business School gains global accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), becoming one of only eight business schools in Australia to hold this dual international recognition.
The Master of Construction Practice becomes the first postgraduate degree in Australia to be accredited by the worldwide Chartered Institute of Building.
Bond law continues to develop its North American market by offering specialist subjects in Canadian law, with the 1,000th Canadian law student enrolling at Bond in 2014.
Other international linkages allow students to undertake internships and study tours to Silicon Valley, China, Africa, remote communities in the Solomon Islands, and in a network of AECOM offices in 150 countries worldwide.
In 2014, Bond features in the world’s Top 200 QS World University Rankings for the first time. The following year, it is crowned the World’s Best Beachside University by Study International.
Closer to home, Bond College expands its pathway options with a range of diploma qualifications.
With a strategic focus on sport, Bond develops study and training partnerships with local, state and national rugby union, rugby league, rugby 7s, AFL and swimming organisations.
In the final interview before his death in 2015, Alan Bond acknowledges that the founding of Bond University ranked as the highest achievement of his career. Interestingly, the interview was carried out by two Bond graduates, Hugh Minson and Jack Morphett.
In 2016, Bond’s Women Yarning Up initiative wins the Queensland Premier’s Reconciliation Award.
2017 – 2018
The University debuts at #20 in the Times Higher Education (THE) rankings of the Best Small Universities in the World.
Major refurbishments are carried out to the Legal Skills Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine building, Bond Business School, and the Multimedia Learning Centre.
Queensland’s first cohort of actuarial science students graduate from Bond Business School. It remains the only program in Queensland accredited by the Actuaries Institute offering a unique focus on big data analytics.
An Australian-first entrepreneurship program, Transformer, is offered as a fee-free, extracurricular option to undergraduate and postgraduate students. While run through the Bond Business School, it is embraced by students from all disciplines who are interested in entrepreneurial, ‘big picture’ thinking.
Bond University College is launched in 2017 to provide a suite of pathway and diploma programs to prepare students for degree studies.
The inaugural Employer Satisfaction Survey, conducted by the Australian Federal Government in 2017, finds that employers of Bond University students are among the most satisfied in Australia.
The Fabian Fay Clubhouse opens in April 2018, further supporting the growth of Bond University Rugby Club and Bond Sport at large.
Australia’s leading private university celebrates its 30th anniversary. The unveiling of the Limitless sculpture on 9 April, 2019 marks the beginning of a year of festivities. The 6.5-metre stainless steel artwork by Gold Coast sculptor Ian Haggerty is inscribed with the names of 26,000 graduates and has a hidden message.
The University’s main library, The John & Alison Kearney Library, undergoes a makeover to provide more modern, student-friendly spaces. Stage two of the Health Sciences and Medicine building officially opens, adding more than 4,500 square metres of floorspace. The design features state-of-the-art learning and teaching zones, additional facilities for researchers, and expanded areas to accommodate staff working on new health and medical programs.
On 15 May, the University’s Foundation Day, staff and students gather in the quadrangle to recreate a historic photograph of the university’s first cohort of graduates. 1,000 Bondies travel from around Australia and the world – including New York, London, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and even Botswana – for the 30th anniversary gala ball, the highlight of Homecoming Week.
The Bond University Aquatic Centre opens in June with a new FINA-ratified 10-lane, 25m pool. Bond alumni Grant Hackett, Jon Sieben, Andrew Baildon and Melanie Wright (nee Schlanger) are just some of Australia’s swimming greats in attendance. The University’s squad includes Commonwealth Games medallists Alex Graham, Elijah Winnington, Jenna Strauch, and Laura Taylor, as well as Minna Atherton who became the first woman in history to break the 55-second barrier in the 100m backstroke.
The University and Screen Queensland unite to launch an Australian-first co-working hub, where screen industry creatives work alongside students. In July, the new high-performance eSports Hub – devoted to competitive video-gaming – is unveiled at Bond’s annual Open Day.
Bond Business School opens the Business Commons in December, a new modern space to accommodate 120 students in a range of self-study areas, collaborative spaces, and informal teaching hubs.
Through critical challenges such as the Global Financial Crisis and the Australian Government’s uncapping of student places at public universities, the University has held fast to its founders’ vision to deliver the best possible student experience. The Good Universities Guide once again rates Bond University #1 in Australia for student experience, a position it has held for the better part of two decades.
Designer of Bond’s iconic Arch – Japanese architect Arata Isozaki – is awarded the 2019 Pritzker Prize, the world’s highest architecture honour.
2020 – 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic presents numerous challenges for all higher education institutions in Australia and abroad. Bond University remains steadfast in its commitment to providing a safe and healthy environment for staff, students and visitors. As lockdowns and travel bans come in to effect, the University moves swiftly and effectively to multi-modal delivery within weeks. By September 2020 it is one of few universities to reopen the entire campus, giving students the opportunity to attend classes in-person as well as via remote learning. Innovation is at the forefront of Bond's operations in 2020, with new initiatives implemented to ensure students can continue their studies from anywhere in the world.
A number of major infrastructure projects are completed in 2020, including an extension to the Society & Design building, the new Alumni Centre, and a bespoke Centre for Data Analytics. The new environmentally sustainable Society & Design building contains recycled materials including railway sleepers and power poles, has enough solar panels to power 10 homes, and features charging stations for electric vehicles. The collaborative computer laboratory is a standout feature of the 'green' building, which completes a long-held ambition to create a collaborative precinct for students of the University’s largest faculty. The Alumni Centre features an alumni lounge, 14-seat boardroom, four smaller meeting rooms, and a merchandise store. The new area ensures alumni can return to campus to work, catch up, or hold business meetings.
In December 2020, Brioney Keats and Myora Stone become the first Indigenous Medical Program graduates.
In 2021, a national survey from The Australian newspaper confirms that Bond University is the #1 Australian university for producing entrepreneurs on a size-adjusted basis.
Bond also marks a number of graduation milestones in 2021, including the 1,000th medicine graduate, and the University's 30,000th overall graduate.
Bond alumni and students win two gold and two bronze medals at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
The research effort at Bond University continues to grow, with almost $10 million in external research funds contracted by Bond University. Bond's Microcredentials Unit is also formally established, with microcredentials offered by every Faculty. These microcredentials range from professional development and executive courses to advanced training in niche areas of expertise, with each microcredential specifically designed in response to market needs and in collaboration with industry partners.
Uncle John Graham, a Kombumerri man, is appointed to the new role of Bond University Elder.
An extension to the Bond Institute of Health & Sport, dubbed BIHS-North, is announced and construction commences in April 2022. The $45 million project aims to meet booming demand for new physiotherapists, exercise and sports scientists, dietitians, nutritionists, and occupational therapists. The five-level building at the University's Institute of Health & Sport precinct will create an additional 11,500m2 of education spaces, offices, and car parking beside Cbus Super Stadium. It will double the current space for allied health programs, and is expected to open in late 2023.
In May 2022, Bond's new location in inner-city Brisbane officially opens, and is designed to serve as a hub for a range of postgraduate and microcredential programs, as well as ongoing industry engagement efforts.
Bond University rises up the Times Higher Education World University Rankings to a band of 251-300 of 1,799 institutions worldwide. Bond is also recognised as the nation's #1 university for student experience for the 17th year in a row by the 2023 Good Universities Guide.
In 2022 Bond alumni and students win four gold, one bronze and one silver medal at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.