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Historic South Australia University Merger Decision Looms

A decision on the proposed merger between the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia (SA) is set to be revealed after months of talks.

Both institutions have been considering a feasibility plan and their respective governing councils met this week to come to a final decision.

That’s now expected to be revealed on the weekend.

In December 2022, the two universities signed a statement of co-operation with the state government which has strongly backed a merger.

They agreed at the time that any new entity would aim to be a university of global standing and conduct future-making research of scale and focus.

The new institution would be called Adelaide University and would open in 2026.

Based on domestic enrolments, it would be the largest in Australia, with more than 36,000 students.

Premier Peter Malinauskas told parliament this week the merger proposal was an important test for all MPs and urged them to support the required legislation.

“An important test of whether or not we are committed to making the bold decisions into the future that set the state up for the long term, whether or not we’re going to only contemplate the sort of hold-back mentality that could deprive a new institution being formed in a way that they both want,” Malinauskas said.

A recent survey found the proposal had little support among university staff, with most sceptical it would improve education or research.

A National Tertiary Education Union survey of 1100 staff across SA’s three universities, including Flinders University, found only one in four backed the plan.

The survey found 21 percent were confident the merger would lead to better education, while fewer than one in three (29 percent) thought it would result in better research.

“Merging the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia represents one of the biggest and most profound changes to higher education we are ever likely to see in SA,” union division secretary Andrew Miller said.

“There is no turning back once this decision is made. 

“We must get it right.”

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