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

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

UniSA Chancellor Jim McDowell, �UniSA Vice-Chancellor Professor David Lloyd, Uni of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen, and Uni of Adelaide Chancellor 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)

Photo: The University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia have agreed to explore the creation of a new university. Pictured (from left): UniSA Chancellor Jim McDowell,  UniSA Vice-Chancellor Professor David Lloyd, Uni of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen, and Uni of Adelaide Chancellor Kevin Scarce.


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