Student accommodation discussion with Alumni 8 October 2015 in the Finkel Theatre
Is there other land available for new halls? Do you have to knock down existing halls?
Professor Young: the problem with the older halls is that they are becoming tired, run down and require significant investment to bring them up to an acceptable standard. In some cases it may be uneconomical to refurbish them and it may be impossible to meet modern requirements for safety and disabled access.
The traditional halls and colleges are a very valuable experience. One of the best things about a traditional college is the interaction between students, most of that happens in the dining hall and you don’t get that same experience in apartment style accommodation. From a parent’s point of view, who has had children in both accommodation models, the traditional model is a far better residential experience.
You could probably charge more – the halls of residences are very cheap at ANU compared to Sydney.
Professor Young: It’s interesting to hear you say that. We know that ANU tariffs are significantly lower than those of our major city counterparts. Whilst we have been trying to catch up a bit with industry standards we’re also very sensitive to student cost of living and ensuring we make campus accommodation affordable is a big priority for the University.
I was one of the original students at Burgmann College and I am a very big supporter of the traditional halls of residence model. The dining halls, the bar, the design of the college all helped to ensure a sense of community and stopped people from hiding away in their room.
Can local students from Canberra attend on campus accommodation?
Professor Young: We have accepted local students into our residences for the last two years.
I went to Fenner from 2003 to 2008 and I’d like to emphasise the high importance of a pastoral care environment. I don’t think it’s the buildings themselves that people are attached to moreover it’s the people and structure that students need. ANU has done some great things for local students like Griffin Hall. While it’s not the same as living on campus it does give local students a sense of belonging and community.
Professor Young discussed first year accommodation guarantee – it’s an important part of the ANU philosophy.
I was a foundation student at Burton Hall. I have a feeling that we would not mind the building being demolished – we understand that things need to change and there is a need for moving on. I agree that accommodation places need to be made for Canberra students. I wasn’t aware of that Canberra students could now live in residence and perhaps the ANU could publicise that better. Is there a register for other places people can stay if they can’t secure accommodation? Could the ANU set up a register of alumni counsellors that could help new students with the transition from home to university?
I was a student accommodation officer at ANU for 20 years. I support the need for traditional accommodation as well as apartment-style accomodation which is preferred by international students. I am very supportive of pastoral care – we would never have put first year students into certain halls that don’t have pastoral care or support. Coming straight from home is quite overwhelming for students. I think there would be sadness if the Daley Road accommodation was demolished, but new buildings would also be exciting. It would be important to retain some elements, especially the Bruce Hall dining room.
I lived at Burton and Garran and Bruce Hall. The perspective I have is that the community experience of a residential hall is very beneficial. I’m curious about the economics of the various proposals.
Professor Young: we have started the construction of the new hall which is built on the B&G traditional model – student input helped us design these spaces. The preference was moderately sized rooms (around 10 sq metres), decent heating and good communal facilities. We have done the economics and believe that the financial return on the investment will be around 6-7 per cent. We have also looked at the backlog issues of maintenance etc. Some buildings we have to refurbish, like Toad Hall which has a heritage listing. There is also a requirement that once you start to renovate over a certain percentage of a building that the building has to be brought up to current building standards and regulations which would mean we’d have to look at accessibility – perhaps installing elevators, widening corridors and the like.
I came to ANU from Country Victoria and my first experience of Canberra was ANU. It was hugely important for me to be able to live and afford to live on campus. The support I received at the residential hall was invaluable. I worked all the way through my degree and was always on the lookout for other financial support that was available.
I stayed at Burgmann for two and a half years. I was from regional NSW and I would advocate that regional students should have priority over local students to live on campus – they can’t live at home.
Professor Young: yes, that is very important. We do guarantee interstate students accommodation and provide some limited spaces for local residents as well.
The post grad experience at Toad Hall was great. It was really important for me to have like-minded people doing research and being able to share experiences and issues with a group who were going through the same things.
I was an international student and coming to ANU was the first experience I had of Australia. I stayed in a traditional hall which, unlike other international students, gave me a chance to mingle with local and Australian students. I think that other international students who go straight to apartment living don’t get the chance to meet and connect with non-international students. Generally international students have good financial support and could pay more for residential accommodation.