Campion College outside of Sydney, Australia, is a faithfully Catholic liberal arts college established in 2006 under the patronage of the English martyr St. Edmund Campion.
The College welcomes English-speaking students for one or more semesters or to complete a full degree, and it has had several students from the U.S., England, Canada, and New Zealand. They fit well within the close-knit community, which included 88 students in 2012.
The College is governed by a 10-member board of trustees, the Campion Institute. The eight-member Campion Foundation launched the college and provides financial support, but has no direct control over the institution. Since 2008, the college has been led by Dr. David Daintree, who previously served as rector of St. John’s College at the University of Sydney. In December 2012, he will be succeeded by Dr. Ryan Messmore, a former research fellow in religion and a free society at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., and founding director of Trinity Forum Academy in Maryland, an advanced theology program for recent college graduates.
Campion College offers a fully-accredited three-year bachelor’s degree program. Students planning for graduate studies in the U.S. should check to ensure that a Campion degree is accepted. The College has several credit transfer and recognition agreements with colleges in the U.S.
The cost of studying at Campion is relatively low. Not only are degrees awarded after three years, but the total cost for tuition, room and board in 2012 (February-November) was $28,500 in Australian dollars, or about $29,000 in U.S. dollars according to exchange rates in September 2012. Financial assistance including need-based grants and loans is available.
Students take 24 required courses in subjects including history, literature, philosophy, and theology. Students also can choose extra courses in Latin and science, as electives. It is likely that a new elective in mathematics will be offered in 2013.
Core subjects are taught in sequence, with some flexibility in choosing courses in the third year. For example, in history, students progress from an overview course to ancient history, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Reformation, and beyond. In the third year, students have options such as studying the 20th century or taking the course Australian Politics, Culture and Religion.
Theology courses consider Christian culture, revelation, the Sacraments and contemporary theology. Optional courses include Moral Theology and Human Bioethics.
The college has five lecturers in the fields of theology, history, philosophy, literature and history and classics. All hold doctorates.
In 2012 Campion held a three-and-a-half week intensive Latin summer school in Rome during the month of July, which is expected to become an annual event. It is open to students from other institutions.
The chaplain, Father Luke Holohan, S.M., provides spiritual direction to students and faculty and celebrates Mass daily throughout the school year in the Ordinary Form. The Extraordinary Form Mass is also celebrated once a week. Fr. Holohan is assisted by a chaplaincy team which includes a Sydney-based sister of the Nashville Dominicans and a senior student sacristan.
A schola made up of students and faculty sing at Mass regularly at Campion and also on occasions at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta and St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney.
On most days students can participate in Morning and Evening prayer and Eucharistic Adoration at the Campion Chapel. All-night Adoration occurs every first Friday of the month.
Campion students are active leaders in the local Catholic community, including the Australian Catholic Students Association (ACSA), the annual Corpus Christi procession, and various Catholic causes such as protests at the Chinese embassy against China’s “one child” policy.
Campus housing includes single rooms designated for men and women, each containing basic furniture and air conditioning as well as wireless internet access. A linen service is provided for laundry needs.
Students can rent nearby homes or apartments. “Homestay”—renting a single or shared room in a nearby private home—is another option.
The college is located in Old Toongabbie, one of the oldest suburbs of Sydney, and is located 18 miles from the central business district. It is also near Parramatta, a major business and commercial center.
The campus is in a “bushland” setting in the midst of suburbia. Birds like cockatoos and lorikeets are commonly seen on the grounds.
Three medical clinics, as well as the 975-bed Westmead Hospital, are in the vicinity.
Most travelers to Australia arrive at Sydney International Airport. The 45-minute trip from Sydney to Campion is possible by automobile, bus, and rail service.
There is a students’ association and an informal sports program. The pro-life group works to support local pro-life organizations.
A popular activity combined with the evening meal each week is the Public Speaking Club, which develops oral skills and teaches the procedures of business meetings.
Students play the piano and perform at Formal Hall, the weekly traditional collegiate dinner at which academic gowns are worn. One of the traditions established at Campion is Réveillon, the final Formal Hall of the academic year in November.
The College game of choice is soccer. There is an intra-house competition as well as an external championship (The Cardinal’s Cup).
Students participate in improving the natural environment of the campus and learn practical skills in gardening, tool operation, and installing nest boxes and take both pride and ownership of the presentation of the grounds. The spacious campus also allows students to build campfires around which they recite poetry, sing and perform skits.
Since the inception of Campion, students have provided assistance to members of the local community and along with staff hold an annual BBQ for the neighbors.
There are many outstanding cultural, shopping and sports opportunities in Sydney, a city of nearly five million people. Residents and tourists enjoy the beaches, including Bondi Beach.
Trips to the beach, hikes in the mountains or picnics by the harbor are regular activities. Hiking is a popular activity in the nearby Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
The Bottom Line
The only liberal arts college in Australia, Campion College was founded to provide students an opportunity to be well-educated and grow in the Catholic Faith. The College’s founders carefully studied the renaissance taking place in U.S. Catholic higher education, and they have sought to plant a similar flag of orthodoxy in Australia.
Today Campion is a successful Catholic institution that offers a unique experience to American students seeking a study-abroad option or a full degree. While certain aspects of Australian colleges and universities are unfamiliar to U.S. students—for example, a three-year undergraduate program and a February-to-November academic year—the opportunity to study at Campion with its strong curriculum and Catholic identity could be very appealing to the adventurous student.