The sandstone universities are an informally defined group comprising Australia's oldest tertiary education institutions. Most were founded in the colonial era, the exceptions being the University of Queensland (1909) and The University of Western Australia (1911). All the universities in the group have buildings constructed primarily of sandstone. Membership of the group is based on age; some universities, such as the private Bond University, have sandstone-plated buildings but are not considered sandstone universities.
The label "sandstone university" is not completely synonymous with membership of the Group of Eight, which includes the Australian National University, Monash University and the University of New South Wales, but not the University of Tasmania. Nevertheless, the connotations (prestige, a focus on research, and curricula that have a strong emphasis on theory rather than practice) are much the same for the two groups. Australian Government survey data of university graduates has indicated in the past that students who enter sandstone universities come from higher income families, and that graduates largely have higher paid occupations or positions of influence, prompting claims of elitism and social division.
|University of Adelaide||Adelaide, South Australia||1874||20,005||7,352||$929 million||1,481|
|University of Melbourne||Melbourne, Victoria||1853||26,751||22,543||$1.335 billion||4,631|
|University of Queensland||Brisbane, Queensland||1909||35,076||18,620||$224.3 million||2,908|
|University of Sydney||Sydney, New South Wales||1850||35,351||25,958||$2.5 billion||2,150|
|University of Tasmania||Hobart, Tasmania||1890||27,880||5,999||$561 million||1,255|
|University of Western Australia||Perth, Western Australia||1911||19,839||5,967||$709 million||1,538|
The University of NSW, Monash University and the Australian National University have been termed 'red brick' universities. They are similar to the red brick universities in the UK, both groups coming after the ancient Universities and sandstone universities.
Universities founded in the 1960s and 70s have been known informally as 'verdant' or 'gumtree' universities.  These universities were established in their state capitals, often next to native bush land (now nature reserves), and have lush vegetative campuses. They are predominantly the second or third established university in their state.