Outstanding new students who would otherwise be unable to attend ANU will be offered financial and pastoral support as part of a new scholarship program.
ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian P. Schmidt announced the new first-of-its-kind scholarship program, which would also enable eligible students to live on campus in their first year, in his address at the launch of the University's strategic plan for 2025.
He said the ANU by 2025 strategic plan sets a pathway for the University to "renew our national mission to keep education and research at the service of the nation, to transform our society and deliver greater national capability".
"And our plan sets the twin goals of delivering a student experience equal to the world's best, and making ANU an equitable and inclusive university of choice for teaching, research and professional staff," Professor Schmidt said.
"Between now and 2025, we will be putting in place policies to ensure no student who has what it takes to get into ANU will need to dream cheaper and choose somewhere else," he said.
"ANU is the only research university in the country whose intended main student catchment zone is the entire nation."
Professor Schmidt acknowledged that moving interstate to study is expensive.
"Living at home costs far less," Professor Schmidt said.
"It's far easier to stay in your hometown and go to the local university. And why not? We have many good universities here in Australia.
"I suspect that many young Australians capable of getting in to ANU fail even to consider applying because calculations like these are so daunting.
"They can still dream of a great education and get it - but maybe by dreaming a little cheaper.
"I think it's time we addressed this."
Professor Schmidt said money worries should no longer be a reason a talented Australian cannot study at their university of choice - especially their national university.
"This is a simple and bold idea," he said.
"We will be the first to fully realise it."
Professor Schmidt said the University also needs to ensure our teaching staff are selected on potential.
"In many disciplines women's participation at the highest levels is shockingly low and in some of those disciplines they depart at two to three times the rate of men," he said.
"That's why, from today, the University will be asking each academic school to develop a plan that leads to gender equality within an agreed time frame, using the novel workforce modelling Professor Lisa Kewley has developed and featured in Nature earlier this year.
"Each school will have a different time horizon and path depending on their circumstances.
"Equality can be obtained sooner than you might think - it certainly will not be achieved unless we take long-term action."
Chancellor The Hon Julie Bishop said policymakers will increasingly rely on the intellectual support of institutions including universities as governments grapple to respond to crises such as the global pandemic.
"ANU was established for such a purpose, and I am confident we can and will rise to meet those challenges," Ms Bishop said.