Our history

Sydney Institute has a proud history of providing training to the people and industry of Sydney for over 120 years.


Sydney Technical College established – adopting the motto 'manu et mente' meaning 'hand and mind' or 'doing and thinking' – to provide hands-on, practical training that is relevant to industry and the community.

Pre World War I

The college provided professional training in dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary science, agriculture, mining and other primary industries. Also trained skilled tradespeople, such as mechanical and civil engineers, chemists, cooks and printers.

Petersham College opened as Petersham Branch Technical School in 1884, while St George College opened as St George Branch Technical School in 1886 with classes conducted at the local School of Arts.

World War l and the post-war period

The college added courses in road and rail carriage building as well as repatriation courses, free to disabled services personnel.

World War II

Sydney Technical College became a combined teaching facility, factory and army camp, providing training under the Commonwealth Defence Training Scheme.

1950s and 1960s

Added training for technicians in areas as diverse as dental care, biomedical and office administration. Randwick College was established as an annexe of East Sydney Technical College in 1954 and became a separate college in 1968.

1970s and 1980s

Growth in courses for development of individual talents, leisure courses, special programs to help students overcome difficulties such as poor literacy or numeracy, intellectual disability or lack of previous educational opportunities. The largest college in the TAFE NSW system became affectionately known as Sydney TAFE or Sydney Tech.

Eora College was opened in 1984.

The new millennium

Dynamically evolving over the past two decades, Sydney Technical College first became Sydney Institute of Technology and then, in 2000, TAFE NSW – Sydney Institute. It now consists of seven world class training facilities – the Design Centre Enmore, Randwick, Petersham, Eora, St George, Sutherland and Ultimo Colleges.

From 300 students enrolled in the late 19th century, Sydney Institute currently enrols over 74,000 students annually.

Heritage Collection

The Sydney TAFE Heritage Collection Guide opens a window into the past allowing public access to records relating to the history of TAFE NSW and, in particular, Sydney TAFE.  As the oldest continuous vocational education and training institution, Sydney TAFE’s rich history dates back to the 19th century and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts and the collection reflects this history. The physical collection is housed at Sydney TAFE's Ultimo College Library, please contact the Library for further details.