Many postgraduates lack permanent housing months after arriving at ANU, according to a report conducted by the ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA). The Association has called for a first year accommodation guarantee.
The report, called Home Away from Home was released on Wednesday the 14th of February. More than 700 students were surveyed on their experiences finding housing in Canberra, and found that 57% of students had no arrangements before arriving in the ACT, and that 9% of respondents were currently homeless or at risk of homelessness. 43% of these students took between one and two months to find a home, and 13% were homeless for over two months. In the meantime, students described having to stay with family, friends, or sleep overnight in ANU’s libraries.
PARSA has called on the University to offer first year postgraduate students an accommodation guarantee, similar to the one currently given to out-of-state undergraduate first years. In a statement, PARSA President Alyssa Shaw said ANU needed to “provide parity for all new arrivals in Canberra” as “postgraduate students at the ANU are struggling financially and emotionally”. Vice-President Zyl Hovenga-Wauchope called current efforts to accommodate the needs of students with families “tokenistic”, and said that postgraduates should “should expect nothing less” than the opportunity to secure quality affordable accommodation.
Competitiveness in the rental market was cited as a key cause, as many students felt unprepared for the pricing and unable to compete with public servants. International students reported higher rates of difficulty, with concerns about exploitation and discrimination, as well as lower rates of secure accommodation as compared to domestic students (89% vs 94%).
On-campus accommodation was much more highly rated in terms of comfort, satisfaction, and convenience, but costs remained a concern.
Other recommendations made in the report were for an increase in the provision of family friendly housing, for ANU to align offer timelines with accommodation deadlines, and commitments from ANU to work with the ACT government and trusted realtors to provide fair occupancy and dedicated student accommodation.