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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 2 Hansard (18 March) . . Page.. 435..

University of Canberra—student accommodation

MS LAWDER: My question is to the Minister for Higher Education. Minister, it was recently reported that the University of Canberra's release of approximately 900 new beds has allegedly resulted in the University of Canberra Student Association no longer being able to run Arscott House, which caters for over 200 UC residents. Minister, what role did the government have in UC's development of the new 900-bed housing facility, and were you aware of the potential impact on the management of Arscott House?

MS GALLAGHER: The government has worked closely with the University of Canberra over a number of years to support an expansion in the amount of student accommodation available on the University of Canberra site and also in areas adjoining the University of Canberra site, and that is something we are very proud of. We think it is a really good thing for the university to be able to accommodate more of their students in affordable accommodation close to the place where they learn and, for many of them, where they work. I have certainly heard from some students about the pressure that this has placed around the management of Arscott House, but the government has no direct role there. We have certainly supported the expansion, and we will continue to work with the university through the development of the university precinct and the plans they have going forward a number of years, including any need for further student accommodation.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Lawder.

MS LAWDER: Minister, will student accommodation costs increase as a result of the changes at Arscott House? If so, by how much?

MS GALLAGHER: That is probably a question that I would have to take advice from the University of Canberra on. I have not had any advice from the University of Canberra that that would be the case, but I would need to check with them and come back to the Assembly.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: Minister, could you please define "affordability" in relation to accommodation for students?

MS GALLAGHER: It is difficult. The Assembly has touched on this before under the national rental affordability scheme—NRAS. That has been very successful partnership between governments and other housing providers, including universities—

Mr Coe: That was rolled out well, wasn't it—NRAS?

MS GALLAGHER: It has actually been rolled out here incredibly well. We have got much more than our per capita allocation here because it has gone so well in the ACT. I think that shows what can be achieved when governments do work with housing providers to get a good outcome.

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