From the Vice Chancellor:
Looking forward while reflecting on a stellar year

Professor David Lloyd, Vice Chancellor and President

I’m delighted that we are reaching the end of a year that was filled with questions, inquiries and uncertainty, in a position of confidence and clarity.

With the passing of the Adelaide University Act in parliament in November, the ‘potential’ we have discussed all year has transformed to become a reality. There will be a new university in South Australia from 1 January 2026.

And, with the appointment, this week, of the nominees to the Transition Council of the new Adelaide University by the respective Councils of the existing institutions, we now know the make-up of the team that will shepherd the creation of this new university. Alongside the naming of these people, there’s also the establishment of our Integration Management Office, and the appointment of key external partners who will support us through the transition.

So, while 2023 was largely a year filled with questions, we can be confident that 2024 will be a year of answers, many drawn from the carefully considered ideas and valuable feedback born of our co-creation activities over recent months. And that is quite an exciting prospect.

There is, however, something else to be acknowledged in all that – alongside the much-wanted certainty we now have about the future of the new Adelaide University, we also have certainty about the future of UniSA.

From 1 January 2026, UniSA will metamorphosize into something new. As we pause and take stock over the coming break, I think it’s important we acknowledge this because, for many people, including me, that comes tinged with some sadness.

And, for those who are feeling similarly nostalgic, maybe a tad emotional about the change, we need to acknowledge that such feelings are 100% okay. They reflect the pride we have in this University, and that pride is well-placed.  

In 2023, UniSA rose 37 places in the QS rankings, moved up 29 places in THE rankings, debuted in the Australia Financial Review’s inaugural university rankings at 11 nationally, and had three researchers place in the prestigious Clarivate Highly Cited list. We also moved into THE’s world top 100 universities for industry engagement and – as we aimed to be when we first set out on our journey to Cross the Horizon as Australia’s University of Enterprise a decade ago (!) – we are now ranked as Australia’s number one university for graduate employability.

All told it’s been a stellar year. Transition Councils and Integration Management Offices aside, UniSA has achieved so much in 2023. And we will build on that success in 2024. And build again in 2025.

All our planning is aimed at that. We will have additional resources to build the new institution with our colleagues down the road, while ensuring UniSA continues to thrive. Pay attention to the newly coined phrase, ‘prefill’, as we work to ensure that resources are deployed before the need to backfill, to take as much stress as possible out of the system as we enter our implementation phase in the new year.

For the new Adelaide University to be the very best institution it can be when it opens its doors on 1 January 2026, UniSA must be the very best it can be right up to the stroke of midnight on 31 December 2025. That means we will continue to innovate as we always do. Current initiatives, like our Enterprise Hub, will continue to evolve, and new initiatives, like our Aboriginal Knowledges Centre, will be brought to life and set on a trajectory for 2026 and beyond. Our Visiting Research Fellows will continue to inspire us with new ideas, and we’ll continue to engage partners all around the world as we respond to the biggest challenges facing the planet.

Far from being a long goodbye, the next two years will provide a unique opportunity to identify, celebrate and elevate the very best aspects of UniSA. Yes, we’re now in the process of moving on to something new, but every positive thing we have right now is coming with us.

The Adelaide University Act is based largely on the UniSA Act. Our regional footprint will not be diminished, nor our national and international impact. The digital underpinnings of our new curriculum will be based on the expertise we have developed through UniSA Online. Campus life and culture will be enriched by the combining of resources, clubs and interests. And we get to shape an exciting new future together.

So, while we now know for sure that there’s a goodbye waiting in the wings, it’s worth keeping in mind that it will be a ‘Doctor Who goodbye’. When the transition is over, the new institution will be different, but it will remember all the adventures we’ve had together, and bring with it the same higher purpose. Just with a new lease on life … and maybe a spiffy new scarf …

Professor David Lloyd
Vice Chancellor and President