The University of South Australia has entered into an agreement with the University of Adelaide and the State and Federal Governments to explore in more detail a business case for the creation of a new university for the future. A university that would have as its core ambition to be a leading comprehensive university of global standing – dedicated to ensuring the prosperity, well-being and social cohesion of society by addressing educational inequality, as well as conducting future-making research of scale and focus.

Professor David Lloyd and Professor Peter Høj
Professor David Lloyd, Vice Chancellor, University of South Australia and Professor Peter Høj AC, Vice Chancellor, The University of Adelaide

This step has been taken in response to the Government of South Australia’s higher education policy calling for the consideration of a merger between universities to strengthen the contribution of higher education to the growth of the economy and society.

No decision to amalgamate the Universities has been made, and the Councils of the two universities will further consider the business case toward the middle of 2023.

For more information, please refer to the UniSA Chancellor’s email, video from the Vice Chancellors, and the FAQs below.

From the Chancellor


pauline-headshot.jpgFrom: Pauline Carr
Date: Wed 7/12/2022 5:45 PM
Subject: Important update from the Chancellor


Dear Colleagues

I am writing to share with you the significant and historic news that the University of South Australia has reached agreement with the University of Adelaide to conduct a detailed feasibility study and produce a business case for our Council’s consideration, towards the creation of a new university for the future in South Australia.

While, at this time, no final decision has been made, this agreement represents the most advanced consideration of change in our State’s higher education sector since the creation of UniSA more than 30 years ago in 1991.

In this message to you, I would like to share with you the background on how we embarked on this journey and some of the detail around the Council’s consideration of this unique opportunity.  Information is also available on the University’s website, and we will be involving our community in ongoing discussions and engagement in the first half of 2023.

How has this agreement come about and what is the role of the State Government?

The election of the Malinauskas’ Labor Government in March this year established a mandate to pursue higher education reform in South Australia. The Government’s policy relating to the establishment of a ‘Merger Commission’ was widely publicised prior to the election.

In responding to this policy, the University of South Australia, through its Council, engaged in high level discussions with the Council of the University of Adelaide to explore what, if anything, the institutions could achieve by working together to support the Government’s goals for the benefit of South Australia.

Recognising that our universities had previously engaged in similar dialogue, on this occasion, we first sought to explore what might be possible. We believed that, were it possible to describe and agree a new university for the future, then it might also be possible to chart a course towards its creation. Our Vice Chancellors took up that challenge and provided our Councils with a shared vision which, if realised, could see the creation of:

Australia’s new for purpose university - a leading contemporary comprehensive university of global standing.  It is dedicated to ensuring the prosperity, well-being, and cohesion of society by addressing educational inequality, through its actions and through the success and impact of its students, staff and alumni.  Partnered with the communities it serves, it conducts outstanding future-making research of scale and focus.

Both University Councils considered this shared vision and the potential opportunity presented by the State Government as one which could advance our respective institutions’ missions at a scale and impact that we could not achieve individually.  

Put simply, our Council’s view is that if we are able to realise this vision and ambition for equity and excellence, we could take the mission, values and impact of UniSA and its culture further and faster than we might ever attain alone.

The creation of a new University presents a unique opportunity to positively transform higher education in our State and nation for the benefit of future generations of students, as well as, securing our legacies to date and ensuring lasting impact on our wider society.

Also, I wanted you to know that we have now shared this vision with the State and Federal Governments, and it has been positively received by both of them.

Have any specific governance or organisational matters been considered?

Both Councils undertook to objectively and constructively consider matters of threshold importance to both institutions. It is our collective belief that only a union of equals can create a new university for the future.

While no decision has yet been made, we acknowledge that the creation of this new university would take considerable time, with some significant steps to be taken along the way. We still have a detailed feasibility study and business case to progress, as well as regulatory and legal requirements to navigate.

Above all, we require specific funding and support from Government to enable us create the new university.

If these hurdles can be cleared, and should we reach the point of creating the new university. In relation to this, both Councils have formally agreed, that:

  • The combined university is intended to be operational from January 2026
  • There would be no net job losses as a consequence of creating the combined university 
  • The combined university would be called ‘Adelaide University’ 
  • A new brand building on the legacies of the two institutions would be developed for the combined university 
  • The combined university would be created and governed by new legislation modelled in large part on the University of South Australia Act 
  • The University of South Australia would nominate the Chancellor of a Transition Council in consultation with the University of Adelaide 
  • The composition of the Transition Council would be nominated by each institution equally  
  • A co-leadership model would be implemented initially, with University of South Australia and the University of Adelaide each appointing one of two co-Vice Chancellors 
  • The-co-leadership model would operate until the appointment and commencement of a Vice Chancellor for the combined university

I know that, in sharing our progress to date, these are significant first steps in advancing an enormously complex process.  However, time is on our side and there are many months, indeed years, left to ensure we have a strong foundation to realise the potential of a new institution. The above considerations are critical first steps which needed full agreement by our Councils if we were to advance this initiative successfully together. Furthermore, our primary concern is one of providing as much certainty as we can, as early as we can and to as many people as we can.

We have a strong track record in planning and executing well, and I’m confident that we will continue to showcase those strengths over the coming weeks and months as we work through this process.

What happens next?

With the learnings from previous discussions of this nature, we have until now confined the current discussion to both university Councils in the first instance so as to reduce uncertainty and minimise any disruption to our ongoing operations and activities.

I do apologise that, given the timing of this development, some of our UniSA community may learn of it second hand or through the media. That is highly regrettable, though an unavoidable consequence of the nature of the activity under exploration.

Now that we have reached this particular point, it is absolutely the right time to openly share this information with you.  Our leadership teams will now be tasked to work together in good faith to substantiate the benefits which we believe can flow from this unprecedented opportunity, and to bring that back to our Councils for decision by the middle of 2023.

Has a decision already been made?

Please let me be clear.  No decision to amalgamate our universities has been made.  We are now entering a feasibility phase of deep interrogation and will produce a detailed business case of what we believe is possible through the creation of a new university.  So while this is not a ‘done deal’ by any means, it is by far the most advanced our institutions have progressed in exploring this opportunity.

Both Councils realise that our sharing of this information will precipitate questions and potential concerns among our communities. Please do not worry unduly.  We can reassure you that, should the business case result in a decision to create the new university, the journey towards its creation will have several years to run before coming to fruition.  In the meantime, and for the years to come, our own University will continue on its individual course, pursuing the ambitions of Enterprise25.

As we enter 2023, be assured that you and our wider community will be more deeply involved in the entire process of creating this new university for the future, realising its potential and in seizing this unique opportunity to redefine higher education in South Australia and this nation.

Until then, on behalf of the Council, I wish to convey our sincere thanks for your ongoing support and understanding, as well as your dedication to our institution through your positive engagement and contribution on a daily basis to ensure our continued success.

Warm regards

Pauline Carr
Chancellor, University of South Australia

From the Vice Chancellors


UniSA Video

University of South Australia Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd and University of Adelaide Vice Chancellor Peter Høj AC talk about the potential creation of a new university for the future.

Frequently asked questions


  • What have the University of South Australia and the University of Adelaide agreed? minus-thick plus-thick

    The University of South Australia (UniSA) and the University of Adelaide (UoA) have agreed to undertake a formal feasibility study and business case for creating a new university for the future.  At this point, no formal decision has been made by the respective Councils to create a new university.

    This step has been taken in response to the Government of South Australia’s higher education policy calling for the consideration of a merger between universities in order to strengthen the contribution of higher education to the growth of the economy and society.

    The university for the future  would have a shared vision to create Australia’s new for purpose university - a leading contemporary comprehensive university of global standing. It would be dedicated to ensuring the prosperity, well-being, and cohesion of society by addressing educational inequality through its actions and through the success and impact of its students, staff, and alumni. Partnered with the communities it serves, it would conduct outstanding future-making research of scale and focus.

    If the business case is approved and necessary support is provided, the universities have also agreed to a number of governance and related matters. These are as follows:

    • The combined university is intended to be operational from January 2026
    • There would be no net job losses as a consequence of creating the combined university.
    • The combined university would be called ‘Adelaide University’
    • A new brand would be developed for the combined university informed by market testing and brand experts, careful consideration of the appropriate recognition of the legacies of both institutions, and the preservation of the favourable profiles of the existing institutions
    • The combined university would be created and governed by new legislation modelled in large part on the University of South Australia Act
    • The respective Councils of the University of South Australia and the University of Adelaide would continue to govern their respective universities until such time as the combined university commences operation
    • A Transition Council would be created with up to 14 members plus a Chancellor. Each existing university would nominate 50% of the members of the Transition Council
    • The University of South Australia would nominate the Chancellor of the Transition subject to consultation with the University of Adelaide
    • The Transition Council would determine the process and time frame to be used to identify and appoint a new Chancellor for the combined university, whose term would commence not later than upon the commencement of the second year of operation of the combined university
    • The Transition Council would also commence and oversee an open and competitive process to appoint a Vice Chancellor for the combined university
    • A co-leadership model would be implemented initially, with the University of South Australia and the University of Adelaide each appointing one of two co-Vice Chancellors
    • The-co-leadership model would operate until the appointment and commencement of a Vice Chancellor for the combined university
  • Why are we doing this? minus-thick plus-thick

    The Councils of the University of South Australia and the University of Adelaide have determined that the strategic ambitions of both institutions could be furthered, faster, by harnessing the best of both organisations.

    We believe a combined institution would possess the scale to sustain a Top 100 university ranking in the long term, would be a stronger magnet for the best research, teaching and student talent, and demonstrate clearly that excellence and equity are not mutually exclusive but synergistic. Combining the strengths of our institutions would unlock enormous benefits and ensure that we are future fit and adaptable to the increasingly changing and competitive higher education landscape.

    While no decision to amalgamate has been made yet, the universities and State Government have agreed to conduct a detailed feasibility study for consideration by the middle of 2023.

  • What is the contribution of the State and Federal Government? minus-thick plus-thick

    The State Government has committed to working with the two universities to secure the necessary financial investment, with the assistance of the Federal Government, to support the new university.

  • When will the amalgamation occur? minus-thick plus-thick

    No decision to amalgamate has yet been made.  The universities will now undertake a detailed feasibility study.  Any change will take time and will not happen quickly.  The universities will be engaging in detailed due diligence, planning and consultation in order to bring a business case to their Councils in the middle of 2023. If there is a decision to proceed, the new university would be operational in 2026.

  • What will the feasibility phase involve and how long will it take? minus-thick plus-thick

    We expect the feasibility phase to last approximately six months. It will examine the financial and infrastructure implications of combining the universities, as well as regulatory and legislative considerations.  The costs and benefits of the proposal will also be tested. For the proposal to progress, we would expect a commitment from the Government to secure the appropriate financial support to ensure success.

    Feedback from staff, students and the broader university community will also be sought during this six-month assessment period.

    At the end of the feasibility period, the business case will be presented to the two university Councils for consideration and potential approval.

    In the meantime, nothing changes. The University of South Australia and the University of Adelaide will continue to deliver quality education and research, engage with the communities they serve and produce outstanding graduates.

  • What is different about discussions this time? minus-thick plus-thick

    Both universities have always remained open to the idea of re-engaging on this matter, and to learning from previous endeavours. While an amalgamation of our universities has been considered seriously in the past, the environment we find ourselves in today is vastly different. Foremost in this, is the strong policy position of the State Government and its preparedness to invest significantly for success. There is an opportunity now to create something new, stronger, and unique for the State.

    Recent years have highlighted the potential fragility of our sector and the constant need to adapt and, in that light, we must think to the future and explore how best to serve our students, staff and partners, and what is possible to ensure future sustainable growth.  The strong and constructive working relationship of the two institutions, coming together at this time, has furnished a clearly defined and agreed mission and ambition of what a university for the future could provide for the State, achievable through a synergistic, trusted, and respectful large-scale partnership.

  • How will staff, students, alumni and partners be involved in planning for the /university for the future/? minus-thick plus-thick

    As the two universities undertake formal feasibility and due diligence work to create a business case, there will be a range of consultation opportunities for staff and students across the two institutions.  The universities will also commence a series of regular communications beginning in the new year to keep you informed.

    There are a significant number of issues to work through and decisions to be made as this would represent one of the largest changes to higher education in Australia undertaken over the past three decades.  Not all the answers to the many questions will be available in the first instance, but updates will be provided regularly.

    The two universities are committed to engaging their communities to consider the key attributes of the new university, with the intent of catalysing the creation of the dynamic, democratic and inclusive culture that would be at the heart of the ambitions for a university for the future.

  • What is the impact on students? minus-thick plus-thick

    We foresee no impact on the experience of current students. The two current universities and their programs would continue to operate until the new university becomes operational.

    The ambition of the new university is to create an outstanding student experience, among the very best in Australia, and it will ensure that the continued focus on high quality teaching is informed by leading research and supported by industry placements, entrepreneurial opportunities and professional experience.

    There is an equally strong ambition to ensure that the new university is a leader in equitable access and provides education of a global standard to students from all backgrounds.

    As detailed planning is undertaken, there will be regular consultation and communication with students.

  • What is the impact on staff? minus-thick plus-thick

    Staff should note that should a decision be made to create a new university, it will not be operational before 2026.  We are committed to seeing no net job losses as a consequence of establishing the new university.

    We aim to create a stronger, sustainable, and comprehensive future university for South Australia. If we proceed to create a new university for the future, it would be the ambition of creating a new institution with an increased workforce, and new opportunities for career development for both academic and professional staff would be created through the new, larger and more sustainable institution.

    The two current universities would continue up to the commencement of the new university’s operation and with existing employment arrangements remaining in place.  A new enterprise agreement would be developed for the new university.

    There would be extended opportunities for consultation and co-creation with the staff, alumni and students from both current universities as we move through the feasibility phase. We look forward to working and engaging with our staff and community.

  • What happens to the existing two universities? minus-thick plus-thick

    For now, there are no changes. The University of South Australia and the University of Adelaide will continue to operate, led by the existing Councils and leadership. Should a decision to create the new university be made, the two universities would work in partnership during this period, together with Government, to plan and implement arrangements for its creation.

    At this point in time, no decision to amalgamate and create the university for the future has been made and the two institutions will continue to operate as they do currently.