Yesterday, The RiotACT reported on the opening of ANU’s latest accommodation for students, Lena Karmel Lodge. You might imagine that after years of campaigning about the need for more student accommodation, the ANU Student’s Association would welcome this.
Instead ANUSA has launched a scathing and shamefully ironic attack on the University, lambasting the new accommodation as not solving the problem of affordable housing in Canberra. According to ANUSA President Fleur Hawes, $200 a week is still priced beyond the reach of most students. She also laments the University’s lack of consultation about the specifics of the development, though does not elaborate on what these specifics are. Paint colours perhaps or the choice of laminates? There’s also complaints about students incurring tariffs to cover the upgrade of older campus accommodation.
The irony is that for all the accusations of the University not pricing accommodation low enough and not consulting students enough, ANUSA itself has failed to offer specific answers to what students should be charged and has failed to consult students itself.
Let’s consider that University accommodation in Canberra is priced well below that of other major capitals like Sydney and Melbourne, and that many students have made a choice to attend a University here rather than one closer to them, including Ms Hawes who lived a mere hour from James Cook University. Several post-grad students made the choice to come to ANU because admission requirements (for Juris Doctor for example) are more relaxed compared to Universities in Sydney and Melbourne.
It’s time to come up with an actual, alternative business model, with an actual $ figure in consultation with stakeholders. One that offers concessions to those who genuinely need to move for University instead of blanket discounts that benefit the greater number who moved by choice rather than necessity.