A new dawn for higher education in South Australia as universities agree to support government in merger

In a ground-breaking announcement tonight, the University of Adelaide confirmed its commitment to merge with the University of South Australia.

In a ground-breaking announcement tonight, the University of Adelaide confirmed its commitment to merge with the University of South Australia. The decision follows an extended period of rigorous negotiations and thorough feasibility studies, promising a transformational shift in South Australia’s higher education landscape.

An email was sent out tonight by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, Professor Peter Høj AC, stating that the Council of the University of Adelaide has resolved to enter into a Heads of Agreement with the University of South Australia (UniSA) to support the State Government in the creation of a combined new university, to be called Adelaide University.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Høj AC wrote “After careful deliberation about the feasibility and merits of merging with UniSA, our Council has concluded that a merger would enable us to achieve more for our staff, students, alumni and wider community than is feasible today.”

Seven months ago, a Statement of Cooperation marked the beginning of a new chapter for both universities. Today, the page has finally turned, revealing a bold and promising vision of a unified academic institution—Adelaide University—set to be operational by January 2026.

Professor Peter Høj AC expressed his confidence in the decision, articulating a vibrant and exciting future for the newly formed university. “We have before us an unprecedented opportunity to create a South Australian university with the scale to make transformational investments in areas like modernising curriculum and online capability, attracting leading academics and students and providing greater equity of access,” he stated.

The merger promises not only an enhanced educational experience for students but also a brighter future for South Australia. Combining resources, expertise, and reputations of these esteemed institutions, Adelaide University is expected to take a leading role in propelling the state into a prominent position in the global education scene.

This historic merger, the first of its kind in Australia, is anticipated to yield a larger, more robust institution that could sustainably excel in the long-term. The university aims to reach the top 1% of global academic institutions, cementing its place amongst the world’s top 100 universities.

Moreover, the merger is a demonstration of how two prestigious entities can work harmoniously towards a shared vision, laying the groundwork for a prosperous future. The co-leadership model, an innovative solution suggested during the negotiation phase, will be implemented initially, with each university appointing one of two co-Vice Chancellors.

This commitment to continuity and shared leadership underscores the collaborative nature of this endeavour, ensuring the seamless integration of the two institutions. “In short, we can go further faster, deliver greater impact for our State and our people, and be better prepared to withstand disruption by combining the strengths of our existing institutions that have served our State so well,” Professor Høj explained.

Anchoring this revolutionary transformation is the pledge of no net job losses due to the merger. This reassuring commitment secures the stability of staff members and preserves the valuable academic talent nurtured by both universities.

The South Australian Government’s financial contribution further bolsters the venture, recognising the significant benefits the unified university will bring to South Australia’s economy and societal fabric.

Yet, the merger is more than a simple joining of two entities. It is a forward-looking endeavour that seeks to invigorate the state’s educational offerings and impact positively on the broader Australian landscape.

Premier Peter Malinauskas MP commended the initiative earlier this year: “The creation of a university for the future would put South Australia at the forefront of education in Australia, with a truly globally-competitive tertiary education institution.”

The newly minted Adelaide University will continue to deliver high-quality education, broaden access to learning opportunities, underpin social cohesion, and make significant contributions to the local and national economy.

As this monumental journey begins, all eyes are on South Australia. The merger promises to make the state a magnet for domestic and international students and a global leader in research. As the universities of Adelaide and South Australia embrace this evolution, we eagerly await the dawn of an era where Adelaide University will redefine education and research in the country and beyond.

The Vice-Chancellor stated “I encourage you to watch this short video message I recorded with UniSA’s Vice-Chancellor Professor David Lloyd and keep an eye on the university’s website for the latest information throughout this next stage. If you have any questions, please email [email protected].”

More to come.

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