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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.

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Plenty of winging but short on solutions on student housing
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Thumper 12:25 pm 08 Mar 12

Take a walk around the ANU College of Business and Economics any day of the week. My observation is that the ANU is all about wooing and subsequently emptying the pockets of the newly rich parents of Asia.

I thought that was the sole aim of UC.

arescarti42 12:10 pm 08 Mar 12

satyr said :

Stop being a leech and work. Previous generations didn’t go to university for free, right?

Damned inter-generational inequity.

aussieboy said :

This is all well and good if you have rich parents; but ANU is all about attracting students from low SES backgrounds. Part of this has to be about providing affordable housing.

Take a walk around the ANU College of Business and Economics any day of the week. My observation is that the ANU is all about wooing and subsequently emptying the pockets of the newly rich parents of Asia.

aussieboy said :

The best solution Canberra has so far is the Student Housing Co-op at Havelock House, where rent is $140 inc all utilities. This is what ANU should be supporting wholeheartedly. Also, sharehouses in nearby suburbs are between $150-180 – why isn’t ANU reaching out to landlords on students’ behalfs?

Agreed, if the ANU was serious about housing affordability and access, they’d be supporting options like this, not expensive glass monoliths on Childer’s street.

satyr 9:58 am 08 Mar 12

aussieboy said :

There’s nothing wrong with the prices charged at UL – they are nice buildings with good common facilities.

BUT – and this is what ANU is delusional about – the only people who can afford to live there are students whose rent get’s paid by their parents (hence the high proportion of international students).

This is all well and good if you have rich parents; but ANU is all about attracting students from low SES backgrounds. Part of this has to be about providing affordable housing.

Affordable housing is defined as 30% of income (and this is what students would get charged if they signed up for a place with Housing ACT) – for a student working 20 hours a week this is $120 pw.

Of course no rent will be that low. But there are ways to reduce the gap between $239 and $120 – and ANU refuses to explore them. Many students don’t want elevators, or rooftop gardens, or aircon, or showcase staircases and massive glass windows.

They want something dirt cheap – and this cannot be ignored.

The best solution Canberra has so far is the Student Housing Co-op at Havelock House, where rent is $140 inc all utilities. This is what ANU should be supporting wholeheartedly. Also, sharehouses in nearby suburbs are between $150-180 – why isn’t ANU reaching out to landlords on students’ behalfs?

Rent was $120 – $130 at the ANU owned colleges up until around 2007.

c_c 1:12 am 08 Mar 12

Just found this gem in a Prospectus prepared by Dallas Proctor, Treasurer of ANUSA in February this year:

“Contrary to popular belief, students have substantial disposable incomes – with 74% receiving parental support for rent and 62% engaged in paid employment. generous government allowances and an extremely low unemployment rate in Canberra contribute to this.

ANUSA is unique in its ability to heavily influence how students spend their money.”

So on the one hand they’re crying poor and saying we need more welfare and cheaper accommodation, on the other they’re bragging about how much cash we have to splash. This is the kind of mixed messages and generalisations that won’t get people anywhere.

What the ANUSA president (whoever it ends up being) needs to say to the Canberra Times and to those in charge is that x% of students have trouble with accommodation fees due to x reasons, can the figure be x and offset by x.

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