Update from the VC: Student Accommodation

10 March 2016

We have undertaken consultations around the University and particularly in the residential colleges. Students have told us what is important to them, and we are exploring outside interest with these concerns front of mind.

Hi everyone

As you all know, a matter very close to my heart is that of being able to provide accommodation on campus for ANU students who wish to live here.

Unfortunately, the demand for accommodation on campus is more than we are able to provide -- we estimate that more than 1,500 students who wanted to live on campus in 2016 were not able to be accommodated.

Another issue facing us is that much of our existing accommodation is getting pretty old now and is in constant need of expensive repairs.

The University has taken out large debts to develop new accommodation and maintain ageing buildings. However, we do not currently have the resources available to modernise or replace old accommodation blocks and build housing quickly enough to meet demand.

This has placed us in the position where we need to look very hard at our options.

ANU is exploring interest in outside investment to help fund the improvement and expansion of student accommodation and student facilities at the university. 

We have undertaken consultations around the University and particularly in the residential colleges. Students have told us what is important to them, and we are exploring outside interest with these concerns front of mind.

The feedback we have received from students and residential alumni tells us that pastoral care, the unique culture of each residence, safety and security, cost and standard of accommodation are all critical and need to be guaranteed in any change.

The model the university is testing provides outside investors with access to a 30-year financial concession (a kind of lease) but leaves the operation and control of student accommodation with the University. The University will not be privatising its student accommodation, and we will retain the day to day management of accommodation and student allocations through this process.

We have decided that the bulk of any additional funds raised through this process should be targeted at improving other services and facilities to students.

At this stage, there are nine residences included in discussions with potential investors-the new building at SA5 (currently under construction) plus Burton & Garran Hall, Graduate House, Toad Hall, Ursula Hall, Davey Lodge, Lena Karmel Lodge, Kinloch Lodge and Warrumbul Lodge.

We have excluded Bruce and Fenner Halls from the current round testing with investors. The University is exploring a separate opportunity to design and build a new Bruce Hall, intended to open in 2018. Fenner Hall, which is off the main campus, will be relocated to the new SA5 accommodation development at the start of 2018.

Our intent in testing this approach is to maintain, and where we can, improve the student experience, including pastoral care, for every ANU student.

I will keep you informed of developments and look forward to hearing your views.


Frequently asked questions

Changes to Student Accommodation

What are the key proposals in the new ANU student accommodation plan?

ANU is exploring interest in outside investment to help fund the improvement and expansion of student accommodation and student facilities at the university to help meet current and future demand.

The model the University is testing provides outside investors with access to a 30-year financial concession (a kind of lease) but leaves the operation and control of student accommodation with the University. The University will not be privatising its student accommodation.

There are nine residences being included in discussions with potential investors: The new building at SA5 (currently under construction) plus Burton & Garran Hall, Graduate House, Toad Hall, Ursula Hall, Davey Lodge, Lena Karmel Lodge, Kinloch Lodge and Warrumbul Lodge.

The University is exploring a separate opportunity to design and build a new Bruce Hall and intends to relocate Fenner Hall to the main campus in 2018.

Why does ANU need to seek outside investors?

ANU cannot afford to build enough new buildings to meet the demand for accommodation on campus. We estimate more than 1500 students who wanted to live on campus in 2016 were not able to be housed.

Many ANU students, staff and alumni agree that the ANU residential experience should be expanded to as many students as possible so we need to build more accommodation.

The University has already taken out large debts to develop new accommodation like SA5 and maintain ageing buildings. ANU does not currently have the resources available to modernise or replace old accommodation blocks or build housing quick enough to resolve the accommodation shortfall.

Too many of our financial resources are tied up in the existing student accommodation at the expense of other facilities for students and improved housing on campus.

What will ANU do with the money that is raised?

The major priority for the bulk of any additional funds raised through this process will be targeted at improving other services and facilities to students across the University.

How will current students be affected?

If through this process the University identifies a suitable investor or investors, any agreement would ensure that the impact will be beneficial to all students.

New arrangements will ensure:

  • Student allocation to residences will continue to be controlled and administered by ANU,
  • Day-to-day management will remain under the direction of the ANU,
  • ANU will continue to provide all pastoral care and control matters of student safety and security,
  • The University will continue to be responsible for the provision of IT access and infrastructure.

How will students from Bruce Hall be affected?

In 2017, the new accommodation SA5, will open. All students from Bruce Hall seeking to return in 2017 will be temporarily accommodated in SA5 in 2017. Provision will also be made for students who wish to continue to have fully-catered meals.

During that year, the original Bruce Hall will be replaced with a new residential building. ANU will work closely with the architects of the new building to incorporate many design elements of the old Bruce Hall into the new building. The Packard Wing will be not be affected.

To maintain the cultural continuity of Bruce Hall, there would also be an intake of first year students to Bruce Hall (in SA5) in 2017.

In 2018, a new Bruce Hall will be opened. All former Bruce Hall residents residing in SA5 will be invited to move into the new building.

How will students from Fenner Hall be affected?

In 2018, ANU intends to relocate students from Fenner hall on to the main campus. Students who lived in Fenner Hall in 2017 will be invited to move to the SA5 accommodation space in 2018.

Why can't ANU keep or upgrade the accommodation at Fenner Hall?

The accommodation at Fenner Hall was originally built in the 1960s to house Canberra's young single public servants. Like many buildings of this age, Fenner Hall and its facilities are in need of significant and costly repair and maintenance to bring them up to a modern and functional standard.

Fenner Hall sits on land owned by the Commonwealth Government and is leased by ANU on a short term lease basis. There is no certainty that the University will continue being leased the land in the future. The construction of the ACT light rail along Northbourne Avenue increases the level of uncertainty.

The ANU campus lease is held in perpetuity by the University. If a new student accommodation building is to be constructed, it makes sense to build it on campus.

How will ANU ensure the costs of the new accommodation remain affordable? 

Affordability of accommodation for students is critical. The University has guaranteed that increases in room rental charges will be limited to CPI, maintained at or below 75 per cent of market rates and subject to five yearly reviews where tariffs will be benchmarked to market rates.

The University is currently working on a needs-based solution that will assist students currently living in low cost accommodation meet any increased costs.

What level of pastoral care will ANU provide in the new accommodation (SA5)?

Quality pastoral care is an important component of the residential hall experience and the University is committed to ensuring it is retained and supported throughout any changes. The new residential halls will have extensive pastoral care arrangements put in place to help provide students with guidance and support. The new facilities will maintain the roles of Community Coordinators and Senior Residents to help care for student well-being and deal with problems confidentially.

The ratio of Senior Residents and the pastoral care elements will be based on the existing Fenner Hall model.

How does ANU propose to keep the unique cultures of each college alive?

ANU is aware that many students feel a strong connection to their residence and feel strongly about their residential community.

The University is committed to fostering and maintaining the unique cultures, traditions and communities that set each college apart. A range of measures have been put in place to assist in this area including:

  • All new residential halls will have extensive pastoral care arrangements put in place to help provide students with guidance and support,
  • The new facilities will maintain the roles of Community Coordinators and Senior Residents to help care for student well-being and deal with problems confidentially,
  • Large communal areas and shared cooking facilities will be provided to help bring students together and foster a sense of community,
  • If students are required to move to new premises, the University will work hard to minimise the impact of the move and keep existing communities together,
  • Where a building is earmarked to be rebuilt, the University will incorporate design elements of the old building to ensure a continuation of traditions and sense of space.

Are these changes definite?

These are the University's ideas for improving student accommodation but there are many issues to be resolved before a final decision can be made. The input of our various communities is a vital part of the process and we welcome your comments and feedback.

Bruce Hall

On 10 March 2016, the Vice-Chancellor updated the University community about a wide range of measures being considered to substantially increase and improve student accommodation at ANU.  A series of student forums were held where the Vice-Chancellor outlined the key components of these proposals.

One of the measures proposed by the Vice-Chancellor was the possibility of redeveloping Bruce Hall. The redevelopment proposal would allow the University to build new student accommodation and increase the number of residential students at the hall in the future.

While no final decisions about the future of Bruce Hall have been made, the Vice-Chancellor provided an overview of the concept. The Vice-Chancellor invited current student residents of Bruce Hall to become involved in the proposal and provide their input into the process.  Focus groups began meeting in mid-March and feedback from students was gathered and provided to the architects.   This process is continuing.

On 7 April 2016 a forum was also held to share some of the ideas with former residents of Bruce Hall.

What are the key features of the design of the new buildings?

The existing buildings, which house over 200 residents, will be replaced with two new buildings that can each accommodate 400 students. The new buildings will be located on the current Bruce Hall site on Daley Road.

The current design concept envisages two buildings, each with its own central quadrangle areas on either side of University Avenue. Designs for communal spaces including dining halls are still being worked on. The current proposal includes returning areas located on University Avenue to an open green space in line with the government's National Capital Plan.

The Packard Wing buildings will not be replaced as part of the Bruce Hall redevelopment plan.

What is the proposed timing?

The University is suggesting, if the new buildings proceed, that demolition would commence in late 2016 with construction flowing on from there and completion of the new buildings by the beginning of the 2018 academic year.

The timing is critical as the provision of alternative accommodation for the Bruce community during construction is a critical factor.

Why are the new buildings proposed for the existing Bruce Hall site?

The University looked at the car park sites both north and of the existing Bruce Hall site.  Both sites have deficiencies such as planning height restrictions, difficult shapes and light and shade issues.  Over 10 different site placements and configurations were evaluated, and the existing Bruce Hall site offered the best design options.

What will happen to current Bruce Hall students?

Bruce Hall residents approved to return in 2017 will be temporarily accommodated in the student residence that is currently under construction "SA5." This would also include an intake of first year Bruce students to ensure the cultural continuity of the community of Bruce Hall.

Provision will also be made for temporary catering facilities so that Bruce students in SA5 in 2017 will continue to have fully-catered meals.

In 2018, when the new buildings on the current Bruce site open,  residents residing in SA5 will have the opportunity to apply for the new residential spaces.

Will this be a catered facility?

Yes, students in the new buildings will continue to have a fully-catered experience.

Is 800 beds too large for one residential hall?

The concept is to have a building design, which will cater for two smaller communities of 400 residents each. Ensuring the new buildings are set up in a way that will allow students to develop strong bonds and be part of a close-knit community is important. The two communities are likely to share some infrastructure to help keep costs down and deliver the lowest possible tariffs.

Will this address the problems of recent years with returning students not all able to return?

Yes, the new buildings will provide some much needed student accommodation space and over time we will be able to accommodate more new and returning students.

Who will manage the new buildings?

The new buildings will remain under ANU management. The proposed staffing model includes a single leadership team and one head of hall. This team will be responsible for the two buildings and the communities within them. Ensuring a high level of quality pastoral care is a priority for the new Bruce Hall and the University is committed to providing sufficient staffing for pastoral care for a community of 800.

Will there by staffing changes?

The University has met with all the staff of Bruce Hall.  Under the new model, it is proposed that maintenance of the new Hall will be provided under a third party arrangement but all existing maintenance staff in Bruce Hall have been guaranteed alternative employment.  There are operational staffing issues that impact catering and housekeeping staff that have not yet been determined.  There will be no changes to the staffing arrangements for the provision of pastoral care.

What will the new buildings cost?

The general estimate for new student accommodation is just over $100,000 per bed and the cost of catering facilities will add somewhat to these costs.  The University is aiming for a construction cost broadly consistent with these factors.

Will the University maintain the unique culture and heritage of Bruce Hall in the new building?

Bruce Hall Keep and Preserve is a new heritage committee being established to identify, collect and store significant artefacts, artwork, documents, furnishings, furniture and objects relating to the unique culture and histories of Bruce Hall. This committee will help determine and manage the Bruce Hall collection and ensure important components of it are appropriately integrated into the new buildings.

ANU will work closely with the architects of the new building to incorporate design elements of the old Bruce Hall into the new buildings.

Will fees and tariffs increase for Bruce Hall students?

Fee increases will be fixed at CPI rates. 

How do I provide input into the process?

Students will be invited to join focus groups to help design the new buildings and a series of separate consultation meetings will be held around key planning issues and processes. 

When will a decision be made?

A decision will need to be made by early July 2016 if the notional construction timetable is to be met.



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Comment by Owen Atkin
9am 10 Mar 2016

Whatever option(s) the ANU decides on, I think it is important that any newly-established accommodation maximizes student interaction and pastoral care.  What is valuable about the on-campus experience is the college/hall experience that comes from students eating/socializing together.  Accommodation that consists of rooms and few options for student interaction should be avoided, if nothing else so as to avoid the mental health consequences of social isolation.  

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Comment by Areti M
9am 10 Mar 2016

Great to see. And very important to respect and maintain the uniqueness that each hall offers as this is a key strength of ANU. And great idea re Fenner Hall moving on campus too. 

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Comment by Diane Smith
9am 10 Mar 2016

Hi Brian - Fantastic news to hear that a cohesive and integrated approach to student accommodation is being created. Can I put in a plug for consideration of a 'student accommodation' issue which we consistently have difficulty with; namely, finding 'student accommodation' when our external post-grad students come to ANU for regular supervisions, to participate in mandatory coursework, and specialist workshops required under their HDR Program. It is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to get access to on-campus 'student accommodation'. Whilst Uni House and Liversedge Apartments are able to be rented, those venues put the price beyond most external HDR students to afford. It would be extremely useful if ANU included the accommodation needs of its externally-based based HDRS in this current round of thinking. Cheers - Diane

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Comment by Benjamin Maclaren
9.30am 10 Mar 2016

Perhaps the university as a innovator, needs to look at the latest technology to help solve the problem, Maybe 3D printing can solve alot of the costs and problems in building accommodation it definitely would put ANU on the map in terms of leading the way in technology.

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Comment by Eliza Wilson
9.30am 10 Mar 2016

I did not personally choose Fenner, a lot don't, but I will stay. Like most choose to do. We have 4th and 5th years as residents or associates. Based on this do you think that no one will want off campus accomodation in the future? Also we have been promised student consulatation but the statement "Fenner will be relocated" doesn't exactly sound consultation friendly. How do you propose to talk to Fenner residents who don't want to move to campus? We are Fenner because we are off campus, so much of our experience is shaped and enriched by not being on Daley Road.

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Comment by Amy Paterson
11.30am 11 Mar 2016

"As you all know, a matter very close to my heart is that of being able to provide accommodation on campus for ANU students who wish to live here."

Perhaps, Mr Schmidt, closer to your heart is the matter of providing accommodation on campus for ANU students who can afford to live there. After all, money seems to be the concern above all others.

As a cohort, we here at Fenner understand the undeniable need to move Fenner from land not owned by The ANU. Moving into a new building, though heartbreaking, is not an occurrence that we are contesting. However, living in a UniLodge is not what a single one of us wants.

Not only does UniLodge present considerable financial challenges for the students of this residency, but there is no possibility that the culture we hold so dear in our community could be maintained. At the meeting this morning, the question surrounding this issue was raised, to the phrasing of "do you really care who changes your light bulbs?"

Well as a matter of fact, we do. Our maintenance man, Bruce knows us all by name, and brings us snacks to fuel our study. Our cleaning staff keep in check with how we're all doing, namely Priscilla, who brews herbal tea when she hears us coughing in our rooms during 'Fenner flu'.

This is a part of Fenner culture that makes us who we are as a community, and to have us run by UniLodge is to take away a highly underestimated part of the culture you claim to be so passionate about continuing.

We don't care about the paintings and Honour boards being safely transported to the new building. We care about the pastoral care system which provides us all a home much deeper than the four walls we live in. We care about being able to tell Kathy and Ray, our bus drivers about our day, and having them wish us well on our way to class. We care about having free parking so that we can pack our cars full of friends and drive to campus or other places for rehearsals, or games, or events. Do your research. You don't know a thing about our culture.

There is no possible way that our community can be kept alive as it is by pulling us into the money-making schemes presented today in the meeting at Burton and Garran. We ultimately know that for the sake of pulling the ANU out of debt, we're going down to UniLodge. But we aren't going without a Fenner fight!

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Comment by Yaorong Chen
11.45am 11 Mar 2016

I'm one of the sufferers of the limited accommodation and it is extremely difficult for students to rend an apartmentIn in inner north,especially for international student like me. So my family decided to buy an apartment in the city centre.

My suggestion is, if the school lacks money in short term, the school can ask the students' parents wether or not they are willing to invest. We can combine their money together to solve the money matters.

Alternatively,or in long term, after finishing building the students accommodation, if the school is still lack of money to maintain it, the school can ask investors to buy a student accomodation for live/investment. Just as what 'unilodge' in Melbourne Does.

My parents and I are willing to invest if the school promise me there's an accommodation for me to live beside the school. Furthermore, if you are seeking for foreign investment,the government will post very high tax. It is easier to get foreign investment if a tax cut can be applied.

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Comment by Stephanie Towns
11.45am 11 Mar 2016

Although I understand that as ANU is struggling to provide accommodation to new students that necessary changes need to be made but I think it is important to not let current students pay the price for these changes. It can be considered as universally acknowledged that university students typically struggle financially and raising the price of rent will just increase this already heavy burden. I, myself am one of the many students that pay my own way through university and I can honestly say the changes mentioned in this blog have got me seriously concerned as to how I am going to afford to continue studying at ANU.

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Comment by Charlie George
11.45am 11 Mar 2016

I think we must balance the common spaces students currently enjoy with the need for more accommodation. The student experience will be poorly served if ANU becomes a collection of academic buildings and colleges.

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Comment by Albert J.
11.45am 11 Mar 2016

Fenner has a very unique culture formed from a number of reasons such as living off campus and having a higher level of lower SES students. Students at Fenner are more likely to support themselves through work because of lower rent prices. Furthermore, Fenner residents actively get involved with campus life (last year one of each ANUSA College Representatives pair came from Fenner Hall, as well as General Representatives and members of the ANUSA Executive).

This change will drastically change the culture of Fenner Hall. The residents of Fenner who work to live will not able to afford the new Hall. Whilst you've mentioned their might be more bursaries, how will they be funded? Will there be guarantees of more bursaries?

Another consideration is postgraduate students. They're able to have 'work' and 'home' by living at Fenner. Having postgraduate students develops the culture of Fenner, and by moving onto campus, they will most likely move off campus.

There are much further considerations such as the impact on small businesses, and Braddon in general.

I would like to see more consultation and to take into account Fenner's concerns.

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Comment by Jason Li
11.45am 11 Mar 2016

Create share dormitories in existing accommodation. It will make accommodation both more affordable and more available with minimal additional investment.

Most undergraduate accommodation in Asia has shared rooms, they also make life-long friends. This can be tried at the ANU first as an option offered to international students who may be more accepting to such arrangements.

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Comment by Andreas Miliotis
11.45am 11 Mar 2016

Private investment is fine but ANU should not continue down the road of more UniLodge type accomodation. ANU managed halls and residences or affiliated such as Burgmann College are far superior in terms of fostering a suitable environment for students in terms of culture and although they may be getting old it would be sad to see Halls such as Fenner and B&G replaced for more UniLodge type accommodation. ANU should continue to manage these residences as per the current structures and not outsource it to private enterprise.

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Comment by Karl van Rysbergen
11.45am 11 Mar 2016

: Hello Brian. My name is Karl and I am a member in residence of the Canberra Student Housing Co-operative. Are you aware of us? In light of this mornings news I think it's imperative for your good self to accept an invitation to one of our famous dinners to discuss all thinks student experience and accommodation. P.S We all love you and think you're fantastic.  

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Comment by Lin Yuan
11.45am 11 Mar 2016

From my point of view. The New Accommodation better to be organised by ANU Staff and Regulations. The rent now in Unilodge are now amazing high, while the community service and experience do not match their price at this moment.

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Comment by Eleanor Lyall
11.45am 11 Mar 2016

Unlike some, I did choose Fenner Hall. As a member of a large and low income household it was my choice merely because of the rental cost. But since arriving, Fenner has become so much more than just a room that cost less than other places. It is a home, a community, a family. Fenner hall is a college where students can learn outside of the classroom. Where we develop into independent adults and form strong bonds with peers. From arrival through to completion of study for some; Fenner pastoral care, location and staff enable students to enjoy a rich university and college experience. It saddens me to think that people from backgrounds such as my own may not even consider college as an option in the future due to the costs and contracts associated with uni lodge buildings; college is a wonderful place for young people to grow in a safe environment. University is where people grow into their potential; everyone deserves that chance. Not only those who can afford it.

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Comment by Jesper Neukirchner
12pm 11 Mar 2016

I am an exchange student and I didn't make use of my guaranteed accommodation in one of the halls simply because they're outrageously expensive (from a European pov). And I"m definitely not the only exchanger who did this. Anyway, I moved to the uni of Canberra village, which was a mistake. The accommodation there is below a minimum standard, and thus bad that my studies are noticably impaired by living there, not even taking into account the fact that I waste a lot of time commuting. I have no alternative except looking for flatshares, but it's too late for that now anyway. Maybe you could offer a basic but dignified accommodation to exchange students in particular, reasonably close to campus? But I guess that would be discriminative so not an option. And from an Australian pov European exchange students are lucky because they study here for free. Well, from my pov it's hard to accept that it should not be free, so I don't consider myself lucky.

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Comment by Amelia Richardson
12pm 11 Mar 2016

Fenner hall's culture and community spirit is closely linked to our off-campus location on Northbourne Avenue. Not only does the location of the residence provide a feeling of "going home" at the end of a long day at university, it also gives us greater incentive and need to access and experience Canberra, not just the ANU campus. Fenner Hall has the highest resident retention rate, meaning that while our application rate is low, when we get here we love it and want the experience to last as long as possible. The high level of pastoral care as well as the layout of the buildings (including the common areas, bedrooms, kitchen and floor kitchenettes) all contribute to our cohesive community.

The Fenner community is made up of people from all walks of life, including many financially independent students and students from a rural/regional background. The proposed rent increase of around $50 a week if Fenner relocates to the SA-5 facility will push some students out of university accommodation- denying them the access to the high level of quality pastoral care provided by Fenner Hall. If, as you and your colleagues specified at the 7:30am meeting this morning, diversity is a priority, it is difficult to understand how that goes hand in hand with a rent increase. Diversity does not just apply to culture, race and gender at Fenner- our residents have diverse socio-economic backgrounds as well and to essentially deny them of an integral part of the university experience just because they can't afford it is elitist, exclusive and wrong.

To relocate Fenner Hall and to increase the price of rent would be a tragedy, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and the potential plans regarding these matters in great detail during your consultation session at Fenner on Wednesday.

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Comment by Tiping Su
12pm 11 Mar 2016

Good news. In order to host more students, double room, triple room or even quad room may be a good choice, especailly for the international students.

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Comment by Louise Knox
12pm 11 Mar 2016

Would the ANU consider running a scheme similar to the Defence Housing Authority, ie. having small investors lease an investment property to the ANU for student accommodation, for a defined number of years?  With the number of reasonable apartments in or close to the city that are currently available for sale this could be a feasible option.

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Comment by Dr H Hafez
12pm 11 Mar 2016

As an investor a 'kind of a lease' does not mean any thing to me. I accept you want to have control however where is your offer and proposal? And is it worth it to me?.

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Comment by Seth Y
12pm 11 Mar 2016


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Comment by M Chandrashekar
12pm 11 Mar 2016

Physical expansion is part of the growth of the University. If and when Bruce Hall is re-built, please make sure that it retains its architectural exterior so that it give connection to the past and the future. Wholesale destruction of the old renders the Alumni relations with the place weak.

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Comment by Terence Beath
12pm 11 Mar 2016

Great idea to improve the opportunities for on-campus accommodation. Too much modern education seems to exclude the social interaction elements with other students and staff that I found both enjoyable and extremely valuable. I had two years in Garran and my last year was President of the Sports Union - a great learning experience. Don't allow ANU to become a sterile human-interaction environment like I fear Sydney and other too large unis are and have been for a long time.

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Comment by Bishan Rajapakse
12pm 11 Mar 2016

Thank you for the update Brian

"Many of you might not be aware that a matter very close to my heart is providing accommodation on campus for every ANU student who wants this experience. In doing so, a number of issues are facing us and we have been reviewing our options. To find out more, read my latest Blog."

I am delighted at this because some of my richest PhD experiences came from living on campus at University house. The support I received from other students, and staff because of living on site was tremendous. I also was my own control, because I was a NZ student who did his field work in Sri Lanka, and was working part time in sydney - so in effect I spent most of my candidacy off campus. It is perhaps for these reasons that I really cherish my on-campus experience.

I would like to make a special commendation of someone who really helped out in segment of my PhD journey - and who also helped countless others -  Mr Tony Karrys. I still always make it a point to go and personally thank him whenever I visit the ANU campus (the last time being for my graduation in 2015).

Thank you for your efforts on this issue.

Bishan :)

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Comment by Jeffrey Wong
12pm 11 Mar 2016

Excellent plan! I have very pleasant memories of my time on campus, and am glad to hear that this part of campus life is being maintained. Good decision!

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Comment by Alan Gould
12pm 11 Mar 2016


The impulse to accommodate more students on campus is worthy, but I'd plead that one can, as an ANU Administrator, take on too much responsibility here. One of the formative experiences of my own four years at ANU (1968-71) was needing to organise, and then share in, a 'group house'. Indeed, I reckon learned more in that dimension of preparation-for-life outside the curriculum that University affords than I might have done had I ever taken advantage of the Halls of Residence that existed in my ANU four years. This is to say, you can make it plain to incoming students they can opt to make their arrangements, and this option allows opportunities to mature (whether in budgetary matters, or personal relationships) that the routines and protocols of Hall-of-Residence life does not.

Best wishes for your term at the helm.

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Comment by Billie Parsons
12pm 11 Mar 2016

The most critical and quintessential thing about Bruce Hall was the dining room. It still, and has been for over 40 years, an eating place, meeting place, recreational space and dining hall for regular, irregular, intimate and major functions of both Bruce Hall, the ANU and beyond. As a mature aged student it was a very special experience breaking bread in the Bruce Dining Hall with many of my cohort, many years younger than l. As a person fortunate to have experienced many great spaces in both Australia and beyond l felt very fortunate to experience that room with a complete series of large artwork by the formidable Australian artist Leonard French, hanging on its walls. No other hall at ANU is so fortunate or capable.The accommodation blocks that surround Bruce hold little as each passing year will attest to issues they had, the dining room though, well it is special. As l head overseas to further my studies this year l hope that the hall doesn't become another black and white photo of a place that used to be.

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Comment by Aditi Chapanerkar
12pm 11 Mar 2016

I am a new international student at ANU, facing problems with accommodation. The rules,contract agreements, are not from the point pf view of students and are not flexible.If a student wants to move out from current accommodation, they apply some charges which are beyond the budget of a student. Also, they do not understand that a student is really not finding it better to stay there and facing some genuine issues, still they do not become flexible to change the contract. They should understand that a student should given all the possible assistance, for students stable mental health is more important for studies. Please sort out this problem.

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Comment by Andrew
12pm 11 Mar 2016

The key to build a viable and vibrant student accommodation is to ensure things happen on 3 fronts:

1. Resident participation with a purpose-matic theme within the specific given accommodation campus (social impact, commercial innovation, rocket science)

2. Infrastructure participation (Toad Hall is one of the classic old infrastructure that enable a hybrid of individual needs (privacy, self sufficiency) and communal needs (interaction, togetherness, collaboration)

3. Affordability

Other ways to subsidize such projects is to offer market rate accommodations to local professionals and get their involvement in the community to offer career mentor-ships.

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Comment by Francis Hutchinson
12pm 11 Mar 2016

I had some very happy years at ANU. Two things, though, remain with me from my days there pertaining to accommodation. I was at Graduate House from 2002 to 2005. First, I was surprised by the decision to construct a scientific facility with a large number of mice used for experimental purposes right across the road. This facility generated waste that needed to be processed, and it was right across the street from where we ate and slept. I would have thought that some sort of zoning within campus would have been more appropriate, and certainly would have made us feel like our welfare was a factor in that decision. Second, my recollections of Grad House are marked by persistent increases in rent and user fees ahead of inflation. Indeed, the rates when I came and when I left were completely different. I would have a rather different recollection if these hike would have been kept in line with inflation.

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Comment by Belinda Lawton
12pm 11 Mar 2016

I know this issue has been raised through the consultations but I thought it worth noting here. One of the key issues is the lack of family-friendly accommodation. Given we are looking to attract the best students in the region, and culturally they often come from more collectivist, family-oriented countries, having affordable accommodation that meets this need is crucial. Just a basic two-bedroom space would be sufficient. Given the needs of families differ from undergrads ideally this would be a separate college structure where additional noise is acknowledged and accepted as part of the joys of children.

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Comment by Gabrielle Jarvis
12pm 11 Mar 2016

I am a person who provides off campus accommodation.  I have up to 4 students staying with me, most of whom are choosing to move off campus for various reasons.  They make a little support network giving and receiving when needed.  To my knowledge ANU offers little support for o/seas students especially those with minimal English.  They get that in my home and assistance with assignments.

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Comment by Patrick Stewart-Moore
12.15pm 11 Mar 2016

You may have heard of the vast amount of office space unoccupied in the city of Canberra. May I suggest an investigation of the possibility of reclaiming some of it to be converted into student accommodation. Rather than building new buildings, which is a very expensive option, renovating unused space may be somewhat cheaper and a faster way of getting the required accommodation to hand. It is also a possibility that the owner of building not currently occupied may be happy to come some of the way in the renovations required and could further reduce the cost to the University. Worth investigating?

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Comment by Daranivasan (Vasu)
12.15pm 11 Mar 2016

I hail from Chennai, India. During my education I stayed at Wybalena Groove, Cook and later Forbes Street. I think students must be placed in various parts of Canberra. This distribution will bring in some kind of benefits as students will options to choose among various locations. Few benefits could be 1. people doing internships/phd with external organizations 2. socializing with different communities 3. ability to understand nature and live with nature (We had horse paddock and hill full of kangaroos near our Wybalena Groove, Cook) 4. students understand life 5. Opportunity for University to look into diverse market values

I would never take any issues with security as Canberra till my knowledge is secure and hence that would not be an issue

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Comment by Tom Swann
12.15pm 11 Mar 2016

It would be good to hear in more detail why the private investment model is preferable to ANU borrowing to invest in assets that will deliver revenue.

It is essential the new buildings are at a higher standard than some of the recent lot. Any developments must be energy efficient, integrate solar, promote public and active transport, and be built to last. They must be integrated with high quality public green space and transport options.

I would also urge the ANU to look seriously at supporting student co-operative models, which apart from everything else help develop the skills of social leadership the ANU wants to be know for.

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Comment by Sebolelo Mohasi
12.15pm 11 Mar 2016

Having had the opportunity to stay both on-campus and off-campus, I still feel that the on-campus life was by far the best and safest. The community life offered by the on-campus living gives one a safety net that is condusive for studying . Ensuring that on-campus accommodation is available to all is the best move. I therefore highly commend you on this.

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Comment by Richard Miller
12.15pm 11 Mar 2016

I had the good fortune to be an undergraduate resident of Bruce Hall in 1968.Bruce is unique I believe in that its original parts were designed and built before the introduction of the neo-Stalinist archetural standard mandated by the Universities Commission. The idea that there will be a "new" Bruce Hall is appalling to me and reflects the obsession of modern administrators to single-mindedly pursue a policy at the expense,in this instance of a small part of campus history. New the next version will be tax efficient yes, part of our history no, appealing no.  I suggest to those responsible to show some spine and let the name "Bruce Hall" pass into history, rather than play the "badge engineering" game as proposed.

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Comment by Ian Morrison
12.15pm 11 Mar 2016

Understandably some of the residential buildings could do with some updating to minimise future costs. Obviously, this may include demolishing some of the wings. That said, some buildings, spefifically the dining hall of Bruce Hall, are historical and reflect a lot of memories of many peoples ANU experience. As a Bruce Hall and ANU alumni I would be extremely disappointed if 're-designing' these areas was actually code for knocking down and rebuilding.

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Comment by Andrey Gallegos
12.15pm 11 Mar 2016

From my viewpoint and experience living off campus, I consider the ANU experience should not isolate itself and its students from Canberra. What I enjoyed the most from being a ANU student was the freedom of choosing where to live, but trying to accommodate everyone in the ANU campus will pose severe mobility and social pressures. Whatever decision ANU makes, I hope it improves the level of satisfaction of studying in one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

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Comment by Gopinaath Ragavan
12.15pm 11 Mar 2016

It's great to hear that Fenner Hall is moving on campus. I remember how isolated Fenner Hall was from the rest of the campus. It didn't feel like it was part of the campus when i was visiting my fellow uni friends.

Great to see new developments and would love to hear updates on university developments through Alumni network. Wondering if ANU has invested in any collaborative learning technologies and infrastructure like UTS Sydney.

2010 ANU Alumnus

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Comment by Tamsyn Caruso
12.15pm 11 Mar 2016

Thank you Brian, it is great to hear news about plans for student accommodation at ANU. 

I would like to share my story and experience as a recent graduate - I was very fortunate to reside at the Canberra Student Housing Co-operative (http://www.csh.coop/about/), community oriented student-run housing, for almost 3 years during my time at university.  I found my experience here perhaps as enriching, if not more, than my studies at ANU itself. I learnt skills like cooking, gardening, having meetings, running events, managing projects and social skills.

This model is low cost; rather than creating expenses for staff to manage day to day happenings, students make decisions themselves through regular meetings. Students also save costs through the ability to make purchases in bulk and share costs. This model is very supportive, ideal for building relationships, and I was encouraged to believe in myself and to take initiative. I feel it was the making of me, and witnessed  the absolute shining and growth in those around me, too. It improved my enjoyment of university many times when compared with my initial experience at a studio on campus.

The co-op has its own pastoral care structure, it has its developed its own culture, rent is low when compared with other options on campus and the accommodation is very safe and secure because its members care about one another and are community-oriented. I should also add that the co-op has a high level of interest amongst ANU students. If you are looking to improve the student experience with regards to accommodation, and promote something that is the way of the future, not to mention being empowering for individual students, may I please urge the university to seriously consider co-operatives and similar initiatives in its vision for student accommodation at ANU.

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Comment by Wenqian Gu
12.15pm 11 Mar 2016

I was a 2004 graduate - and back then the in-campus accomodation was one of the biggest reason that I choice ANU as a international student. All those days stayed in campus gave us so many funs as well as places to learn from the others. Till today I still believe that ANU did a great job on this. One thing hope you can be really aware of is the in campus safety - even back then many cases happened and I believe that safety is the first thing for anyone. Good Luck!

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Comment by John Dennis
11.15am 15 Mar 2016

Dear Prof. Schmidt,

I am a first year resident of Fenner Hall who, like many, is very concerned and worried about the proposed changes to our college. I am writing to express my disagreement with the university's plans to move Fenner Hall to SA-5 in 2018.

As a first year, I have only lived at Fenner for around five weeks, but it already feels like home to me. I think that being off campus is a major contributing factor to this strong sense of community that is so apparent at Fenner. The differentiation between uni and home allows me to physically, and as a result mentally, distance myself from the university environment, and this has had a highly positive impact on my uni experience so far.

Being off campus forces (in the best possible way) Fenner residents to more closely come together as a community. The proximity of other on-campus colleges to each other means that the individuality of each college is much less - they often 'blend' together and are referred to collectively as "Daley Road colleges". On the other hand, Fenner Hall has a unique and special community, and the fact that I recognise this after such a short time living here proves how cohesive this hall is as a supportive residential environment.

Furthermore, our buildings, while old and probably past their prime, have a 'lived-in' feel that a shiny new college can never replicate. Many of the features of our current buildings are directly linked to the character of Fenner Hall - the Warren cafe and bar, the North and South towers and the kitchens (with the dodgy ovens included) are but a few examples. It is encouraging that the SA-5 building retains many of the design features that exist at Fenner, but there is a certain element of our identity that cannot be replicated in a new college that doesn't share the history that Fenner Hall does.

Finally, the proposed rent increase from the current rate of approximately $210 per week to $260 per week poses a number of problems. Such an increase would make it inherently harder for students from a diverse range of backgrounds to have access to residential colleges at ANU. As well as this, I know that a number of current residents at Fenner Hall simply would not be able to afford this 25% increase in rent. This is an important issue and one that I believe will adversely affect a large number of students.

I hope that this has given you some insight into the opinions of many residents at Fenner who oppose the planned changes to our hall. I encourage you to treat this issue with the importance that many of us at Fenner strongly believe it deserves.

Thank you,

John Dennis

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Comment by Huw Davies
11.30am 15 Mar 2016

Perhaps this is an opportunity to discuss negative gearing with government in Canberra? My own experience was over 50 years ago in Lennox House. Crap accommodation but great community spirit.

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Comment by Wenqian Gu
12pm 15 Mar 2016

I was a 2004 graduate - and back then the in-campus accomodation was one of the biggest reason that I choice ANU as a international student. All those days stayed in campus gave us so many funs as well as places to learn from the others. Till today I still believe that ANU did a great job on this. One thing hope you can be really aware of is the in campus safety - even back then many cases happened and I believe that safety is the first thing for anyone. Good Luck!

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Comment by Wendy Suiter
4.45pm 16 Mar 2016

 I wholeheartedly support the comment that the university provide affordable short stay accommodation for off-campus post-graduate students. 

This would be a great support, and make engaging with staff and other students and academic work, much easier and far more accessible than it is at present.

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Comment by Warren Dent
4pm 4 Apr 2016

I was a Bruce Hall pioneer in 1961. Now living in the US. Hard to understand pros and cons and reasons fro replacement of the Hall from afar, but I do NOT buy that all students want to live on campus, nor that that is always desirable. I did and enjoyed the experience, but it's not for everyone.  In the US most students live off-campus and seem to thrive. I wonder what percent of students live on-campus vs off-campus for the other major Australian universities. Sure would be interesting to know those statistics to put this notion in perspective. Since many can't make the meeting on April 7, could it be videotaped and presented on a website afterwards?

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Comment by Raymond John Roberts
3.15pm 20 Apr 2016

Dear Vice Chancellor, as an undergraduate student residing at Bruce Hall under Bill Packard and as a PhD candidate residing at University House as a mature student, I had wonderful experiences at both. I would like to endorse Bishan's comments about Tony Karrys. I would certainly not like to see any significant changes of culture or structure at University House and I would like to see the ethos Bill developed at Bruce Hall maintained in any future operation.

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Comment by Ruth Flower
1.30pm 3 May 2016

I spent twelvemonths in Bruce Hall and three years at Burton and Garran. Bruce Hall was my home and while I couldn't wait to leave 'home' largely because of the food I still have very strong attachment to the place. Compare this with Burton and Garran which I loved as a student (hence staying there for three years) but if B&G was the sum of my on campus experience I would not feel much for my time at ANU.

The smallness of Bruce made for strong friendships and fabulous sense of well being. How many attempted suicides at Bruce and how many at B & G? A sad comparison but in my 12 months there I did not know of anyone particularly isolated. I used to shut myself in my room but my neighbours always made it clear that I was still part of the community. I knew an over seas student and he was very stressed about his studies but we did the same reminding him that he was known and that people were looking out for him.

We tried at B&G but the rabbit warren structure the mad noisy kitchens really could not produce that same atmosphere.

My initial horror at the plans for Bruce Hall centered around University Avenue and the experience of ANU campus with the sweeping avenue of poplars and Bruce sitting there behind the fountain. I understand that you intend to retain this architecturally and I am pleased but in reading the FAQ I am concerned about the plans for mega on campus accommodation. It prompted me to think and compare B&G and Bruce. I really think you will struggle to create community, sense of safety and well being if you go for big colleges of 400 residents. Kind regards Ruth.