The 18th of July 2017 marked 50 years since the second vice-chancellor of UNSW, Professor Sir Philip Baxter, signed an association agreement with the Navy for the delivery of UNSW first year courses at the RAN College, Jervis Bay and with the Army for an affiliation with RMC Duntroon that led to the formation of the Faculty of Military Studies.

In 1967, there was no fanfare and no signing ceremony. A copy of the document was placed in the post for the Navy Minister, Don Chipp, and the Army Minister, Malcolm Fraser, to counter-sign. The Services needed an educational partner; and UNSW was willing to help. The plan was for Duntroon to become an autonomous degree granting institution within 10 years. UNSW would be the midwife. The Army assumed that with time, Duntroon University would absorb the service educational programs offered by the Navy and the Air Force.

The Faculty of Military Studies did not morph into Duntroon University; nearly fifteen years after the initial agreement was signed, it became the University College created to be the academic entity within the Australian Defence Force Academy established in 1981 and opened in 1986. More recently, the College has morphed into UNSW Canberra with a remit to serve much more than Defence's undergraduate educational needs …

From this small beginning UNSW Canberra has grown into something that no one planned or expected - but which is widely esteemed and deeply appreciated - the continuing close relationship between UNSW and Defence.