ANU Bush Week 1987.

ANU Bush Week in 1987. Photo courtesy of ANU Archives.

Word watch: University language

Universities are central to everyday Australian life and, as such, have spawned a language of their own, says Australian National Dictionary editor AMANDA LAUGESEN, BA (Hons) '97, PhD '01.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of ANU, as well as the publication of the second edition of the Australian National Dictionary (first edition, 1988).

To mark both, let's take a look at some of the words included in the second edition that show the contribution of universities and the higher education sector to Australian English.

Spanning from government policy to our penchant for abbreviations, the selection of terms tells us something about the history of universities in Australian life.

A number of words in our lexicon relate to developments in government policy in higher education.

They include HECS, the Higher Education Contribution Scheme introduced in 1989 that requires students to contribute to their tertiary education; and Dawkinisation, the Federal Government higher education reforms brought in under then Education Minister John Dawkins.

These included the introduction of HECS and the granting of university status to Colleges of Advanced Education (CAEs). CAE is another Australianism (recorded from 1967).

The status of Australian universities is encapsulated in a number of terms. Older institutions, such as the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney, are often referred to as sandstone universities (from 1996) because some of their original buildings are made of sandstone.

These universities - and ANU - belong to the Group of Eight (1996), a group of research-intensive and more prestigious universities.

The University of Melbourne has been known as The Shop since the 19th century, while Monash University has been nicknamed The Farm since 1963