How ANU Stacks Up

ANU Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Commerce student David Winter compares his experiences at LSE to ANU.

Reputation precedes ANU and LSE. International rankings reflect this. But there is a world of difference between the two. One possesses awe-inspiring architecture, multiculturalism and vision.

 

Recently I completed the LSE International Summer School, the biggest summer school in London, along with over 5,000 students from around the world. Many of which will soon be attempting to follow in the footsteps of LSE alumni come world leaders like JFK, Penny Wong, Lee Kwan Yew, and Ed Milliband.

 

The Summer School is continuing to help turn the grand 100-year-old LSE buildings into modern marvels. In 2008, the Queen opened the stunning New Academic Building. Its foyer has polished wooden floorboards, seats and walls, glass lifts, and a stunning multistory void up to a glass ceiling.

 

The six-story spiral staircase in the LSE Library, the largest social science library in Europe, is just as stunning. Not to mention the new award-winning Saw Swee Hock Student Centre.

 

ANU does have some architecture of comparable standard. The Crawford School’s mix of cottages and modern glass are well mixed into its lakeside surroundings. Some would argue the new science buildings are also marvelous.

 

One difference is consistency. Every building in LSE has the same signage, in the same format, in the same colours. It is a brand. There is even continuity in interior design. The same cannot be said of the ANU brand, let alone its buildings, or its signage.

 

The difference in campus sizes also makes for interesting comparisons. The spread out nature of ANU makes any central hubs of activity hard to create. The fact that there are so many libraries, as opposed to one large one at LSE, also makes a community feel hard to establish. Although, the green fields of ANU are pleasant compared with the loan park at LSE.

 

In terms of course content, although ANU contains many more departments than LSE, it does not teach media or journalism. This was the reason I chose an International Journalism course to complete at the Summer School.

 

Charlie Beckett, former ITV and BBC journalist, convened the course and brought all his connections to bear. Everyday a guest speaker came in to talk to us. The list was impressive: Sarah Marshall from the Wall Street Journal, Matthew Eltringham and Cordelia Hebblethwaite from the BBC, and, Isabel Hardmen from the Spectator, just to name a select few.

 

LSE also held public lectures by world-leading academics throughout the course. Again the Crawford School leads the way in bringing in world leading academics, but struggles to match LSE because unsurprisingly, in terms of world influence, Canberra is no London, and Australia is no United Kingdom.

 

Shinzo Abe’s recent visit is welcome. But as Australia’s National University in Australia’s capital surely these visits by world leaders could be more frequent.

Many universities claim to be global, but LSE actually is.

 

My tutorial had Italian, Turkish, American, Canadian, Ukrainian, Australian, Spanish, Singaporean, and many other nationalities, sat around the same table.

 

Unfortunately, again, ANU does not compare. Only a few of my commerce classes have foreign students in them, but unlike LSE they are strictly from the Asia-Pacific region, perhaps indicative of the fact that the reputation of ANU only travels so far.

The amount of things to do in London feels never ending. During my time at LSE, though, this was partly due to the LSE Student Union’s involvement in innumerous events, including: tours to Stonehenge, Cambridge and Oxford, Thames riverboat parties, formal receptions, campus tours, and bar crawls.

 

I have not even heard of ANU trips to parliament house, which as a political science major is mildly concerning.

 

ANU needs money spinners like the various summer schools LSE has. To create these successfully it needs vision.