University of Adelaide and University of South Australia agree to explore the creation of a new University

UniSA Chancellor Jim McDowell, UniSA Vice Chancellor Prof David Lloyd with Vice Chancellor of the University of Adelaide Prof Peter Rathjen and University of Adelaide Chancellor Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce The Chancellors of the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia today announced that the two universities will explore the merits of a merger to create a new, leading Australian university. 

The universities have agreed to explore whether a merged university would generate a stronger institution that has the potential to deliver greater outcomes for the State of South Australia, and for its students, graduates and partners. 

Both University Councils have endorsed a six-month period of collaboration to discuss a potential merger, with the two Vice-Chancellors, Professor David Lloyd (UniSA) and Professor Peter Rathjen (Adelaide) to oversee a joint report, to be delivered by the end of the year. The Councils will consider the report and determine the merits and viability of progressing with a merger or not, at that time. 

A joint body, drawn from the two governing bodies, will be created to provide oversight of the collaborative process.

This group will draw on the expertise of external leaders in tertiary education, including Professor Glyn Davis, AC (Vice-Chancellor, University of Melbourne), and Emeritus Professor Ross Milbourne, AO (former Vice-Chancellor, University of Technology Sydney). 

The group will also involve the Hon. Dr Jane Lomax-Smith, AM, and Andrew Pridham, highly regarded alumni of the universities of Adelaide and UniSA respectively. 

A joint working party – convened by the Vice-Chancellors – will also be established. 

Over the next six months, both universities will undertake extensive consultations with staff, students and alumni, as well as business, industry, government and members of the community. 

Full details of the consultation process will be announced over the coming weeks, with submissions to be called for across the period August-September. 

All current academic programs, student services and research relationships will continue, and each institution will operate as normal during this period. 

Joint statement from the Chancellors, Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce (Adelaide) and Mr Jim McDowell (UniSA): 

"The national and international landscapes of higher education are rapidly changing. Now is the time to facilitate a conversation about whether uniting our universities would create a new internationally renowned university of scale that would be well placed to anticipate and respond to this changing landscape. 

"We need to determine whether this would enable us to deliver greater access and benefits to students, create more opportunities for staff, enable greater collaboration with and contribution to our community, and make greater economic, social and cultural contributions to South Australia. 

"Today we are announcing the start of a conversation and an exploration, not a destination.

"The question of mergers between universities has bounced around South Australia, as it has in other States, for two decades. As two institutions that already sit alongside one another on North Terrace, that collaborate in areas like the SA Biomed City project, and are successful in their own right, we should now grasp the opportunity to consider the merits of a shared future for both institutions. 

"We can foresee, for example, that combining and consolidating our complementary expertise, particularly in areas like defence, health, agriculture, education and engineering, would position a new University in the top few in Australia for size and scale; may place it firmly within the world’s top 100; and have a reach that could make it one of the most international universities in Australia.

"The economy and nature of our society is changing rapidly, and we want to ensure that we have considered all strategic avenues to develop the best breadth and depth of expertise that will provide our students with the opportunity to thrive in the workforce of the future. 

"We also need to explore whether this new university will create a wider range of pathways to enable greater access to education for more South Australians. 

"Both our universities have unique histories and we have both evolved to meet the needs of each generation. We are now wanting to explore together whether we might build on that proud history, leading to more opportunity for the communities we serve."

Comment from the Premier of South Australia, the Hon. Steven Marshall:

"I applaud the universities of Adelaide and South Australia for their courage in addressing this long-standing issue head on. No matter what the outcome of this process, their intention to work together shows that both institutions have the best interests of South Australia and its prosperity at heart."

Comment from the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham:

"I welcome today's announcement between two universities that have such distinctive but complementary missions. It's pleasing to see the universities of Adelaide and South Australia acknowledging that bold leaps may be required to deliver higher education that best serves South Australia's future requirements. Thorough analysis to establish the benefits of any change are quite properly a precondition of final decisions and I look forward to closely assessing the outcomes of this work." 

Facts and Figures:

University of Adelaide

Founded: 1874

Students: 27,000

Staff: 3800

Total revenue: $947 million

Campuses: three (North Terrace, Waite, Roseworthy)

University of South Australia

Founded: 1991

Students: 37,000

Staff: 3000

Total revenue: $610 million

Campuses: six (City East, City West, Magill, Mawson Lakes, Whyalla, Mount Gambier)

View our website "Exploring the creation of a new university" for more information

 

FAQs – Exploring the creation of a new university

 

 1.       Why are the universities exploring a merger? 

The Councils of the University of Adelaide and University of South Australia have agreed to explore the merits of a merger to create a new, leading Australian university. 

This exploration will consider whether a merged university would generate a stronger institution that has the potential to deliver greater outcomes for the State of South Australia, and for its students, graduates and partners. 

2.       Why is this happening now? 

The question of mergers between universities has bounced around South Australia, as it has in other States, for two decades. 

The national and international landscapes of higher education are rapidly changing. Now is the time to facilitate a conversation about whether uniting the two universities would create a new internationally renowned university of scale that would be well placed to anticipate and respond to this changing landscape. 

As two institutions that already sit alongside one another on North Terrace, that collaborate in areas like the SA Biomed City project, and are successful in their own right, the universities should now grasp the opportunity to consider the merits of a shared future for both institutions.

3.       The two institutions are quite different – why would they consider a merger?

Both universities have unique histories, and each university has evolved to meet the needs of each generation. The universities are now wanting to explore together whether they might build on that proud history, leading to more opportunity for the communities they serve.

The process will need to determine whether a new university would deliver greater access and benefits to students and alumni, create more opportunities for staff, enable further collaboration with and contribution to the community, increase research opportunities, and make stronger economic, social and cultural contributions to South Australia.

The process will also need to determine whether combining and consolidating the two universities' complementary expertise would: position a new university in the top few in Australia for size and scale; place it firmly within the world’s top 100; and have a reach that could make it one of the most internationally connected universities in Australia. 

4.       Is this a move to rationalise resources? 

No. The universities have agreed to explore the merits of a merger to create a new, leading Australian university. 

This is about whether or not a new university would be a stronger institution nationally and internationally, with the potential to deliver greater outcomes for the State of South Australia. 

The conversation will be focused on whether uniting the two universities would create an internationally renowned university of scale that is well placed to anticipate and respond to the changing landscape of higher education. 

The process will need to determine whether a new university would deliver greater access and benefits to students and alumni, create more opportunities for staff, enable further collaboration with and contribution to the community, increase research opportunities, and make stronger economic, social and cultural contributions to South Australia. 

 5.       Is there any immediate impact on students, academic programs or research? 

No. All current academic programs, student services and research relationships will continue, and each institution will continue to operate as normal during this period. 

 6.       Will there be an immediate impact on staff and jobs? 

No. Each institution will continue to operate as normal during this period. 

No decision has been made about the creation of a new institution. Both universities are encouraging input and feedback from staff and key stakeholders throughout this consultation period to develop a shared understanding of the likely composition of the workforce, should a new institution be created. 

The ultimate aim of this process is to determine whether it is possible to build a stronger university – one that generates greater economic, social and cultural opportunities for South Australia.

7.       What is the consultation process and how can my voice be heard? 

Both universities will undertake extensive consultation with staff, students and alumni, as well as business, industry, government and members of the community. 

Full details of the consultation process will be announced over the coming weeks, with a website to provide further information and enable submissions to be made. Submissions will be called for across the period August-September. 

 8.       What happens if you decide not to merge the two universities? 

The process has only just begun and it would not be helpful to pre-empt the outcome of the consultation and the discussions. Each institution will continue to operate as normal during this period. 

 9.       When will we know the outcome? 

The two Vice-Chancellors, Professor David Lloyd (UniSA) and Professor Peter Rathjen (Adelaide), will oversee a joint report, to be delivered to the University Councils by the end of the year. 

The Councils will consider the report at their December meetings and will determine the merits and viability of progressing with a merger or not, at that time. 

Media contacts:

Simon Hatcher

Hughes PR, Mobile: +61 (0)419 780 071, simon@hughespr.com.au

Mark Williams

Hughes PR, Mobile: +61 (0)401 147 558, mark@hughespr.com.au

UniSA Contact: 

Michèle Nardelli +61 (0) 418 823 673, Michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au

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