SA Government reveals details for historic university merger

The universities’ respective councils have formalised an agreement to work with the government in support of the creation of the new university.

The State Government, University of Adelaide and University of South Australia have signed an historic Heads of Agreement to support the creation of a new university for the future, which would have the largest cohort of domestic students of any university in Australia when it opens in 2026.

The universities’ respective councils have formalised an agreement to work with the government in support of the creation of the new university – to be called Adelaide University – after the feasibility phase gave confidence that the benefits were compelling.

By 2034, the new university is forecast to contribute an estimated additional $500 million per year to the South Australian economy, educate more than 70,000 students – about 13,000 more than both universities combined today – and create an additional 1,200 jobs.

To support this endeavour, the State Government is investing

  • $300 million for the establishment of two perpetual funds enshrined in legislation:
  • A new $200 million research fund to support Adelaide University’s research initiatives.
  • A new $100 million student support fund to support the enrolment of students of low socio-economic groups.
  • $30 million over three years for a range of initiatives to attract international students to Adelaide University.
  • $114.5 million for the purchase of university land by the government, including the Magill Campus ($64.5 million) – which UniSA has long planned to sell – and the purchase of occupation rights for part of UniSA’s Mawson Lakes campus which is surplus to requirements ($50 million).

The Mawson Lakes campus will continue to operate and there are no plans to close this campus, indeed Adelaide University has ambitions for further expansion in the north.

The Magill site will be leased back to UniSA at a peppercorn rent for so long as is required while the university fulfills its long-held plans to relocate courses. The State Government will develop a detailed masterplan for the future use of this site.

The universities’ feasibility assessment also projected that by 2034, the new university would attract a forecast 6,000 additional international students, assist an additional 800 low socio-economic students pursue higher education and generate an additional $100 million in research revenue every year.

Importantly, both universities have formally committed there will be no compulsory redundancies or retrenchment of staff as a consequence of the progressing the formation of the new university, in advance of its anticipated opening in January 2026 and for 18 months thereafter.

The State Government will now move toward introducing The Adelaide University Act 2023 to Parliament to establish the new university.

Premier Peter Malinauskas says that it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity for SA.

“The new Adelaide University will be the largest educator of domestic students in Australia and will have the scale and resources to be sustainably positioned in the top 100 in the world.”

“We will sustainably have one of Australia’s best and top ranked universities here in our state. Importantly, this new university will be accessible to everyone with the capacity to succeed, regardless of their background, thanks to the State Government’s $100 million student support fund.”

“And the State Government’s $200 million research fund will give the new university the foundation it needs to be a nation, and indeed world-leading, research institution.”

“This is an idea which has been talked about for years and years. The time for talk is over, the time for action has arrived. This is a government which is getting things done.”

Deputy Premier Susan Close says the new university will teach more domestic students from a broader range of backgrounds.

“With a new contemporary curriculum, with flexible entry requirements and learning aligned to the needs of industry and the professions, Adelaide University will put South Australia at the forefront of tertiary education in Australia. It will create something truly special for South Australia.”

“I want to sincerely thank the councils from both universities for their commitment to improving outcomes and growing opportunities in education in South Australia and I’m looking forward to working with them to deliver this once in a generation opportunity.”

Treasurer Stephen Mullighan says that Adelaide University will deliver a significant boost to South Australia’s economy, create more jobs and will work actively with local business and industry.

“Importantly, the State Government will also secure land which will be surplus to requirements to allow the government to strategically develop the sites for the benefit of the people of South Australia.”

Chancellor of the University of South Australia, Pauline Carr, and Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, Catherine Branson said “Our Councils found the benefits of combining the two universities to create a new Adelaide University to be significant and in the best interests of each of our institutions as well as the State of South Australia.”

University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Høj, and University of South Australia Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd said “We believe the new institution will, in the medium and longer term, be of higher national and international standing than anything we could achieve individually. It will be better for our students, our staff and our community.”

“We envision it to be a place for outstanding educators, researchers and innovators that will consistently rank in the top 1% of universities worldwide.”

“By combining our strengths, this new university will be renowned from day one, placing our graduates among the most sought-after in the world.”

“We welcome the State Government’s significant and necessary investment for the new university and the Federal Government’s backing of our vision.”

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