Part IV: Foundations, 1986 - 2003

On 17 January 1986, 351 new entry officers under training, including 52 women, arrived at the Academy site. With those who had transferred from the single Service colleges as second and third year cadets, the student body now consisted of 657 undergraduates and 90 postgraduates – already exceeding the 700 students expected. The first five years saw a substantial expansion in student numbers. The main focus was on undergraduate education which was Defence’s priority. The number of undergraduates had increased from 770 to 969 with an additional 365 postgraduates in 1992 of whom 116 were uniformed Defence, 37 civilian Defence, 32 UNSW staff and civilian 180. More civilians were also being admitted to postgraduate courses with many travelling from overseas to study at the Academy.

The first of a series of external reviews of the Academy was conducted in early 1992 with the Inspector- General’s Division of the Department of Defence concluding that the Academy was working well and that UNSW was delivering a high quality education. Three years later, a Parliamentary inquiry recommended an end to the undergraduate program and termination of the UNSW agreement, contending that officer cadets should receive their education in civilian universities.

The newly elected Howard Government disagreed but in 2001 commissioned a review led by Professor Ian Zimmer into whether the UNSW-Defence relationship was cost-effective. The review team praised the quality of the education provided by UNSW and recommended that Defence negotiate a new agreement with the University. In June 2002, the Chief of Defence Force, Admiral Chris Barrie, remarked:

UNSW has provided an excellent range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs at ADFA... this signing ceremony paves the way for a more contemporary, transparent and flexible agreement for the future delivery of educational services... the Zimmer Report confirmed what Defence already knew - UNSW has provided Defence with high quality educational services for over three decades.