ANU offers cash in bid to fill up empty residential halls

Art by Jasmin Small.

Disclaimer: The thumbnail art is satire and does not reflect the University's decision making process.


The ANU is offering up to $5,000 to students who refer others to move into the University’s residential halls, following a 4% decline in residential hall applications. Data accessed by Woroni revealed that applications for 2024 totalled at 11,912 applications, which is 500 less than last year’s total of 12,413 applications.

The big winners this year were Wamburun, where applications jumped 53% to 508 (from 332), Burton and Garran Hall where applications increased 33% to 1262 (from 948), and Fenner Hall where applications increased 30% to 868 (from 664).

The biggest losers this year were all at UniLodge including Warrumbul Lodge where applications fell 36% to 432 (from 675), Lena Karmel Lodge which fell 32% to 1452 (from 2146), and Kinloch Lodge which fell 25% to 1278 applications (from 1707).



NB: While applications for 2024 are still open, this data reflects the changes in demand over the same time period.

Yukeembruk had the fewest applications per room, which is concerning against the backdrop of high withdrawal rates from the hall last year, with 129 leaving or choosing not to take up residence between January and August 2023.

While 11,912 applicants would be enough to fill the total 6,400 residential units offered at the University, the ANU Accommodation website was still offering “instant” offers as of week two. 

This suggests that there are still many rooms available. An ANU spokesperson confirmed, “as of the first week of semester one 2024, the majority of rooms across our campus accommodation have been filled”. It is the case that students may be declining successful offers or the University is rejecting applications. 

Accepting residential offers present large upfront costs. These upfront payments include the registration fee for new students, the refundable deposit, residential committee fee, cleaning fee and two weeks of tariff payments in advance. 

The refundable deposit for most standard rooms, some with shared kitchens and bathrooms, ranges between $800 to $1000. For Burton and Garran Hall, which has the lowest tariffs, the upfront costs for a new resident would be about $2087.

However, it may also be the case that students found more affordable options off-campus. Rent in Canberra’s private market stabilised for some and decreased for others as the vacancy rate in Canberra’s rental market went above 2% for the first time in a decade last year.

ANU’s residential halls are also facing competition from the new market entrants Y Suites, which opened a student residence on Moore Street with 736 units last year. In addition, competition includes UniLodge residences at the University of Canberra, which are also open to ANU students, a small number of private operators like the non-profit Student Housing Co-operative at Havelock House and the private rental market.

The ‘Refer ANU Earn’ scheme was announced in the On Campus newsletter and the Residential Experience unit’s social media pages in early February. The scheme was advertised offering $250 per student for a maximum payout of $1,000. On February 16th, the ANU announced on Instagram that it had raised its referral bonus offer to $1,000 per referral for a maximum payout of $5,000.

Under the scheme, referrers receive $1,000 for every student who accepts an offer, by signing the occupancy agreement, through following the receiver’s delegated link. The referred student will receive a credit to their rent of $1,000.

It is yet to be seen whether the referral scheme will successfully fill up the halls, given that the average increase in tariff prices for a standard (non-lodge) has been an extra $20 per week, an approximately 5.04% increase from last year. Over a typical 44 week contract, this amounts to an extra $880 a year.


Rooms continue to be available as of week two of the semester.

The ANU spokesperson told Woroni that “ANU remains the only university in Australia to provide new students with guaranteed on-campus accommodation”, stating that “demand for…campus residences remains strong”.  

As for the soft demand at Yukeembruk, the spokesperson pointed out that “it takes time to build these new on-campus communities”  explaining that the University expected the first-year and returning cohort to be smaller than more established halls given that it only opened last year: “In comparison, our other residences are made up of both new and returning residents over multiple years.”

The spokesperson did not answer Woroni’s question about the ‘Refer ANU Earn’ program. 

Editor’s note: The data for 2022 applications in this article is different from Woroni’s previous article, “New on the block: Yukeembruuk is the most applied for hall on campus” which was published last year. The ANU media team, who supplied all the data used in this article, explained this data better reflects demand. 

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