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Plenty of winging but short on solutions on student housing

By creative_canberran - 7 March 2012 25

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.

What’s Your opinion?


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25 Responses to
Plenty of winging but short on solutions on student housing
c_c 3:02 pm 07 Mar 12

dtc said :

No, the problem is that universities should not treat student accommodation as a profit making venture charging ‘market’ rates. Housing your students should be part of the service you are offering and be below market rates. At least in some way it should be linked to student payments (Austudy or whatever it is now called). There should be ‘public housing’ equivalents, whereby low income/interstate/disadvantaged students get much cheaper housing.

It’s 20% *below* market rates and is subsidised by the Commonwealth’s NRAS.

That takes the price of a single studio apartment in Lena Karmel down from $271 to $239

So for a single, non share, fully furnished, studio apartment – $231 per week.

Then Rent Assistance comes in, which is up to $119 per fortnight and is adjusted according to CPI twice per year at an interval linked to Youth Allowance or Austudy.

After rent assistance, that one person studio drops effectively from $231 per week to $171.

$171 per week.

You then add $25/wk for utilities (electricity, gas, water, internet/phone connection).

$196 per week.

Now frankly I think the silly $230 admin fee when you sign a lease should be done away with, and I bet something could be done about the utilities bill. And it’s up to ANUSA to target those two and work something out. Just whinging that the rent is too high is not going to get students anywhere.

johnboy 3:00 pm 07 Mar 12

By way of comparison the utilities in a three bedroom sharehouse in nearby o’connor is $100 per quarter per head.

sophomoric 2:59 pm 07 Mar 12

The Poors should just give up on the Go8 and go to Outer Western Nowhere University instead? I’d bet the house that the author of this piece lives at home.

neanderthalsis 2:57 pm 07 Mar 12

Jivrashia said :

On a more serious note, I’d think $200 is a going rate for a typical studio apartment in the rest of Canberra. But if these accommodations are supposed to be tailored to students then that is somewhat pricey.

Actually, $200 for an inner city studio is about 1/2 the commercial rate, so as for affordable, it fits the bill by comparison. How much space and luxury does a student really need?

Option b is always a teepee on the lake…

arescarti42 2:57 pm 07 Mar 12

A couple of things that are worth pointing out here.

A subsidised single studio at Lena Karmel lodge is not $200 a week, it is $239 a week (which is a considerable amount for someone on not much money).

A single studio at Lena Karmel lodge is not some sort of luxurious bachelor pad, it is a roughly 2.5×6 metre room with a single window. For comparison, 2.5×6 metres is about the size of a parking space.

Oh, and on top of that $239 a week is a $25 utility fee, which covers the electricity to light and heat your car park sized room. The utility fee is not subsidised.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 2:41 pm 07 Mar 12

johnboy said :

And you’d happily pay 2/3s of your after tax income on housing alone?

During Uni? Absolutely. I’ve paid more than that on occasion when studying full time, and was always dead broke then. It didn’t stop me (or my mates who were in a similar situation) from having fun though!

The point of uni is that you will move on to bigger and better things.

dtc 2:37 pm 07 Mar 12

JessP said :

The problem seems to be imho that students want a high level of accomodation, all the facilities but dont want to pay the $$ for it.

I accept (and I remember) that being a poor student is no fun, but if you cant afford to pay to live in Canberra – in itself not a cheap place to live – then you cant afford to go to Uni here either.

No, the problem is that universities should not treat student accommodation as a profit making venture charging ‘market’ rates. Housing your students should be part of the service you are offering and be below market rates. At least in some way it should be linked to student payments (Austudy or whatever it is now called). There should be ‘public housing’ equivalents, whereby low income/interstate/disadvantaged students get much cheaper housing.

I dont necessarily blame the universities, as part of the issue is related to govt funding. However, part of it is also related to huge numbers of students now attending universities, which is in part a university decision.

johnboy 2:33 pm 07 Mar 12

And you’d happily pay 2/3s of your after tax income on housing alone?

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 2:32 pm 07 Mar 12

I did about 25 hours per week during my undergrad course in part time work at the usual haunts to keep myself there. With today’s basic wages, I reckon a uni student could easily bring in $300 a week, which could be used to pay rent, buy food, and even have some drinking money left over.

satyr 2:25 pm 07 Mar 12

satyr said :

I lived at ANU in a university residence for a number of years. Largely, colleges are administered by academics who are incompetent financial managers. The colleges, despite always being full to capacity, have been losing money for years because of maladministration. In the end, the colleges gouge residents to make up for financial shortfalls. While I was at college:

– A student sub-dean was forced to take over the day to day management of the college because the college head was an absentee landlord. Amongst the former head’s many antics, he converted one of the hall’s music rooms into his personal wine cellar. The sub-dean later took legal action.
– In response to the sub-dean’s legal action, the college put senior residents and sub-deans on ‘scholarships’ i.e. a sham arrangement to avoid the creation of an employee/employer relationship. However, the duties, including regular meetings and rotations means any money earnt was taxable.
– Fees increased well above inflation every year. Usually at around the rate of 10 – 15% p/a.
– Weekly rental inspections were imposed on residents.
– The college backed out of its contractual obligations, and withdrew 24 hour dining 6 weeks into the academic year.
– The university managed to have colleges made exempt from the Tenancy Act.

Unfortunately over the last decade it seems that (the ANU colleges, I won’t speak for colleges in other cities) have transformed from diverse communities to shambolically run institutions for the wealthy. To the people sledging college students for not moving elsewhere, try to image how easy it would be for a group of young people under 20 to snag a rental property in Canberra.

Oh, and we paid upwards of 80c PER MEGABYTE for internet for many years. Apparently the money was used to maintain the ‘amenity’ of the campus. It sure as hell didn’t go into maintaining the colleges.

satyr 2:23 pm 07 Mar 12

I lived at ANU in a university residence for a number of years. Largely, colleges are administered by academics who are incompetent financial managers. The colleges, despite always being full to capacity, have been losing money for years because of maladministration. In the end, the colleges gouge residents to make up for financial shortfalls. While I was at college:

– A student sub-dean was forced to take over the day to day management of the college because the college head was an absentee landlord. Amongst the former head’s many antics, he converted one of the hall’s music rooms into his personal wine cellar. The sub-dean later took legal action.
– In response to the sub-dean’s legal action, the college put senior residents and sub-deans on ‘scholarships’ i.e. a sham arrangement to avoid the creation of an employee/employer relationship. However, the duties, including regular meetings and rotations means any money earnt was taxable.
– Fees increased well above inflation every year. Usually at around the rate of 10 – 15% p/a.
– Weekly rental inspections were imposed on residents.
– The college backed out of its contractual obligations, and withdrew 24 hour dining 6 weeks into the academic year.
– The university managed to have colleges made exempt from the Tenancy Act.

Unfortunately over the last decade it seems that (the ANU colleges, I won’t speak for colleges in other cities) have transformed from diverse communities to shambolically run institutions for the wealthy. To the people sledging college students for not moving elsewhere, try to image how easy it would be for a group of young people under 20 to snag a rental property in Canberra.

JessP 2:18 pm 07 Mar 12

The problem seems to be imho that students want a high level of accomodation, all the facilities but dont want to pay the $$ for it.

I accept (and I remember) that being a poor student is no fun, but if you cant afford to pay to live in Canberra – in itself not a cheap place to live – then you cant afford to go to Uni here either.

Chop71 1:51 pm 07 Mar 12

wingman

c_c 1:41 pm 07 Mar 12

Also that should be “whinging” – thank you iOS.

Jivrashia 1:39 pm 07 Mar 12

Plenty of winging

?
The students are flying mad about the current accommodation arrangement?

On a more serious note, I’d think $200 is a going rate for a typical studio apartment in the rest of Canberra. But if these accommodations are supposed to be tailored to students then that is somewhat pricey.

I understand that in some Unis these on-campus accommodations are provisioned to the most needy based on various means test.

But before that…
alternative business model
That’s the whole problem. Everything, including education, is treated as commodity these days. I can’t but help suspect that most Unis (e.g. Group of Eight) are beginning to be driven by profit. And the government is progressively showing disinterest to tertiary education.

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