The Australian National University Evaluates Its Student Family Accommodation

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Client: The Australian National University
Total Enrollment: 26,000
Institution Type: Public, 4-Year
Canberra, Australia
Research Methodology: Benchmarking Analysis



The Australian National University (ANU), a world-leading institution, sought to attract more diverse students. As part of this initiative, the ANU wanted to know the level of student need/demand for family accommodation on campus, and the potential value of providing such accommodation.

“The Australian National University is working to ensure it offers the best accommodation to its students. Family housing on campus is not often available in Australia, so we wanted to understand if this is something that is needed, and what value it would provide. We had the idea but needed details on what our peers around the world are providing in the family accommodation space,” said Margaret Murphy, Associate Director for University Performance.



The ANU partnered with Hanover Research to assess accommodation policies and availability for students with partners and/or children at other top global institutions.

Research Goals:

  • Identify what types of family accommodation other universities offer
  • Determine other universities’ eligibility requirements for student family housing
  • Pinpoint the average cost of such accommodation and what it includes (e.g., furnishings, childcare, etc.)
  • Evaluate the general landscape of how prevalent such accommodation is among peer and competitor institutions

“Our vision is to create an amazingly cohesive and inclusive student environment on campus. As part of our mission to provide a supportive residential experience, we wanted to explore if providing student family accommodation would make us more competitive, especially in the post-graduate doctoral student space. Hanover’s research has been very useful for thinking through how we want to define ‘family’, and the amenities and services we should offer. This report will continue to inform the development of our family housing as we implement SA8, our new student housing community that will include 32 family accommodation units on campus, and as we plan for future accommodation on campus..”

Margaret Murphy,
Associate Director for University Performance


Hanover conducted a benchmarking analysis of accommodation policies for students with families and accommodation types at 21 top global institutions. The analysis reviewed the institutions’ websites to gather insights on student family accommodation eligibility, types of accommodation offered, specifications (including facilities and amenities), and cost and logistics.

The analysis found that few institutions explicitly mention offering student family accommodation, and no institutions guarantee accommodation to student families. Institutions that do offer family units vary in the amenities and services they offer; the most helpful provide entire buildings specifically for families and may also offer community centers, activities, and/or childcare services.

Based on the analysis, Hanover identified that designing accommodation specifically for student couples and families would be a differentiating factor for the ANU as compared to its competitors. In addition, the ANU could set a global standard in student family housing if it were to offer a range of unit sizes and limit specific units to student families instead of also allowing single students to apply.




Informed by Hanover’s benchmarking insights, the ANU:

  • Confirmed its decision to build 32 family accommodation units in its upcoming SA8 student housing community
  • Committed to offering two-bedroom apartments for its family housing
  • Plans to position itself as a leader in student family accommodation both in Australia and globally


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