ANU looks to halt enrolment growth as UC prioritises Canberra students

“There’s about to be less places, we couldn’t have students here miss out…we pride ourselves on being Canberra’s university,” he said.

This week, the ANU signalled it would halt student enrolment growth to protect its quality following a period of rapid expansion.

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International enrolments in particular have surged in recent years, rising by almost 2000 students between 2013 and 2016.

Vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt told reporters on Monday the university had reached an appropriate size, but did not mention an explicit cap on student places.

“The university is at a size of roughly 20,000 full-time students and so we’re not intending to grow, both international or domestic, we’re at the size we need to be,” Professor Schmidt said.

“If we get any bigger, we will not be better.”

The admission came after federal Labor signalled it was open to a cap on international student places to ensure universities weren’t being exploited as pathways into the country.

The university, which is in the midst of an ambitious campus redevelopment, did not provide further information on how enrolment would be managed when contacted on Tuesday. It is understood the process has not yet begun, but has been discussed for some time.

Professor Schmidt told staff earlier this month that in order for the ANU to provide a unique and personal education, it would need to remain relatively small.

Vice-president of the ANU post-graduate and research student association Zyl Hovenga-Wauchope said the move seemed sensible, given that many issues plaguing the student body of late seemed linked to the university’s rapid growth.

“It demonstrates that maybe it’s not all about the dollars and getting international students in,” he said.

“But I’d like to see more student services to match that [growth] too.”

Association president Alyssa Shaw said a number of colleges were already bursting at the seams as infrastructure failed to keep up with student growth.

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