The discussion paper on merging the universities of Adelaide and South Australia warns a potential problem is, “lack of appropriate support from federal or state government.” Fortunately, federal education minister Simon Birmingham on ABC Radio yesterday set out the “key fundamentals” he will want to see; “the provision of essential services to South Australian students, to prepare them for jobs and economic opportunities in the state, the research undertaking that is so essential, and then the international engagement and particularly those international students. And if it gets a tick across those, that it’s going to provide better outcomes for the state, then all well and good.”
This is an excellent start for the process– uni mergers in Adelaide is a perennial for politicians adept at changing subjects. Back in 2014 then premier, Jay “look! it’s giant Tesla battery” Weatherill appeared to be making mischief for then federal education minister Chis Pyne’s deregulation plan by proposing uni mergers CMM August 2 2014).
Mr Pyne and the then three VCs knocked it off quick-smart and the same could easily occur again if the new plan is politicised. That Senator Birmingham has specified what any merger must accomplish is a great way to ensure it is assessed on its merits.