Adelaide University merger progresses with newly appointed Independent Advisor

The South Australian Government has appointed Professor Emeritus Ian O’Connor AC as its Higher Education Independent Advisor, responsible for providing expert advice on matters relating to the establishment of the new Adelaide University.

The South Australian Government has appointed Professor Emeritus Ian O’Connor AC as its Higher Education Independent Advisor, tasked with providing expert guidance on matters concerning the formation of the new Adelaide University.

Professor O’Connor brings a wealth of experience to the role, having served as Vice Chancellor and President of Griffith University and as President of the Academic Board at The University of Queensland. He’s also chaired the Higher Education Standards Panel and served as Deputy Chair of Trade and Investment Queensland.

“The establishment of Adelaide University will be a pivotal moment in the history of our state, forecasted to make South Australia a smarter, fairer, and more attractive place to live, study and work,” Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Susan Close MP, says.
“The amalgamation of two great universities into an even greater one is no easy feat – and through the appointment of the Independent Advisor, the South Australian Government is committed to supporting the universities to get this right.
“Appointing respected university and research leader Professor Emeritus Ian O’Connor as the Higher Education Independent will enhance engagement and transparency throughout the merger process.”

In his capacity as Independent Advisor, Professor O’Connor will engage with key stakeholders to provide impartial advice on various aspects of the establishment of Adelaide University.

This includes offering recommendations on the measurement and achievement of proposed economic benefits, potential impacts on staff and students, and risk management strategies.

The initiative to merge The University of Adelaide and University of South Australia was set in motion in December 2022 when both institutions signed a Statement of Cooperation. This agreement outlined their intention to combine strengths and resources to form the new Adelaide University.

To facilitate this merger, the South Australian Government has committed $464.5 million. This funding will support various aspects of the transition, including the establishment of research and student support funds, acquisition of university land, and initiatives to attract international students.

Legislation necessary for the establishment of Adelaide University was approved in State Parliament following a thorough Parliamentary Joint Committee review and community consultation process.

With the transition phase now underway, both universities are concentrating on meticulous planning and execution. This includes ongoing engagement with their respective communities to ensure the smooth creation of the new institution.

“We are delighted with the appointment of Prof Ian O’Connor AC as the Higher Education Independent Advisor. Ian has an outstanding record as a university leader and former chair of the Higher Education Standards Panel,” Co-Vice Chancellors of Adelaide University, Professor Peter Høj AC and Professor David Lloyd, says.

“We very much look forward to his input to our making Adelaide University a great success.”

Adelaide University is slated to officially launch on 1 January 2026.

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