Stained-glass window showing coat of arms

Our motto and coat of arms

The stars change, the mind remains the same
The motto and coat of arms acknowledge our historical roots and reflect our Australian experience.
Carved arms in sandstone over the Clocktower entrance to the University's Quadrangle.

Our arms in sandstone above the Clocktower entrance to the University's Quadrangle.

Three years after our inauguration in 1852 Professor John Woolley and Fellow of Senate (later Sir) Stuart Donaldson were set the task of seeking a coat of arms for our University. Acting Provost Francis L S Merewether officially submitted the design and Sir Charles Nicholson negotiated the final design with the Kings of Arms in London.

Our coat of arms was formally granted on 14 May 1857 and we’ve been using a modernised version since 2010.

Understanding the heraldry

The current version of our ceremonial Univeristy arms

Our formal coat of arms

  • The golden lion at the top represents courage and symbolises England and Cambridge.
  • The open book in the centre is a symbol of learning and is from Oxford’s arms.
  • The blue cross with stars likely originates from the popular yet unofficial 19th century symbol for New South Wales.
  • Our motto, 'Sidere mens eadem mutato' has had many translations; "The stars change, the mind remains the same", "The constellation is changed, the disposition is the same" or "The same learning under new stars".

College coats of arms

There are other arms that form a part of the history of heraldry at the University. Some of these are officially granted by the College of Arms and others assumed.

St Andrew's College arms

After a redesign and substantial fee, the St Andrew's College arms were formally granted in 1966.

The college motto, 'Christo, Ecclesiae, Litteris', translates to "For Christ; for the [Presbyterian] church; for learning [or scholarship]".

St Paul's College arms

The St Paul's College arms contain several elements that emphasise the life of St Paul and the role of the college as a Christian foundation.

The crossed swords represent St Paul, who was beheaded with a sword; and the Maltese cross 'in chief' on the shield is suggestive of his shipwreck at Malta before his imprisonment in Rome.

Although the coat of arms was used for most of the college’s history, it wasn’t officially granted until 1961.

The motto, 'Deo Patriae Tibi', translates as "For God, my native land and thee".

The Women's College arms

The Women’s College arms were adopted in 1894.

The motto, 'Together', taken from Tennyson’s Princess, has become a symbol of women’s emancipation.

St John's College arms

In 2009 St John’s College adopted a new standardised depiction of the arms.

The proud eagle is in a stance of power ready for flight. The sun with the trinity in the centre represents god.

Wesley College arms

In 1969 Wesley College became the first co-ed college at the University of Sydney.

The motto 'Ministrate in Fide Vestra Virtutem' can be translated as “Serve virtue in your faith”.