Part II: Evolution, 1968 - 1975

The University recruited specialist staff to meet the particular tuition needs of students at Jervis Bay and Duntroon. The first cohort of young officers to enrol in UNSW courses commenced their studies in March 1968. Most midshipmen undertook their first-year studies at Jervis Bay before transferring to the Kensington campus to complete their degrees. Army Staff cadets completed their studies at Duntroon. A small number of civilians and uniformed personnel also enrolled in postgraduate qualifications. Educational standards across the Services gradually began to rise as a result of the UNSW relationship.

Opening of the new Science Block, RANC Jervis Bay, 1968. Professor Sir Philip Baxter (centre).

The Navy and the Army also began to approach UNSW for assistance with a range of research projects and to exploit the benefits of an experienced scholarly community that could enhance and extend the advice the Defence Department offered Government. There were occasional tensions in the relationship between UNSW and the Services. They related to the incidence and handling of cadet misconduct at RMC and attempts to circumscribe the intellectual independence of academic faculty. Neither placed an insurmountable burden on the relationship which embodied considerable respect and substantial goodwill.

While the Army worked towards establishing "Duntroon University", the Government commissioned an inquiry into the future of Service officer education. When it finally reported in 1970, the Martin Committee recommended amalgamating Jervis Bay, Duntroon and Point Cook into a tri-Service Academy that would be located on Commonwealth land adjacent to RMC. With Prime Minister John Gorton firmly against the establishment of a tri-Service academy despite energetic advocacy from the Defence Minister, Malcolm Fraser, the proposal languished until the election of the Whitlam Labor Government in December 1972. The new government decided to establish the Academy and to have it opened in 1977 when the UNSW agreements were scheduled to end.

A Canberra Times editorial on 19 June 1974 observed that ‘Duntroon has ably demonstrated that a military school can function successfully under the wing of a university’ but questioned whether:

...it is desirable to set up a new tertiary institution reserved exclusively for the people who will constitute the officer corps of the Australian defence forces, or even an institution that would open its doors also to the few - public servants and specialists - who have a professional interest in the military sciences.