Student life: 75 Years of the Australian National University

As a new research university in the 1950s with relatively small numbers of graduate students, student life at ANU did not flourish until the 1960s.

In 1960 the university amalgamated with Canberra University College (CUC), and undergraduate students officially became part of the ANU. The CUC had operated in Canberra in association with the University of Melbourne since 1930. The CUC became the School of General Studies.

Campus life became more lively as undergraduate numbers increased, and buildings and facilities such as residential halls, the Union Building and university libraries opened. The 1960s also saw the establishment and strengthening of institutions and traditions including Orientation Week, Bush Week, clubs and associations and the student refectory.

While undergraduate numbers grew and campus life thrived, the ANU maintained its strength in research and postgraduate studies. In 1964, ANU accounted for more than 25% of graduating Australian PhDs.

The demographic profile of students changed markedly through the 1960s and beyond. At the start of the 1960s there were many more part-time than full time students, a trend which reversed over the following decade. As a result the average age of students became much younger, contributing to a more dynamic campus life. The gender balance of the student population became more equal over time too, starting with three males enrolled in a bachelor degree for every female in 1961, until 1985, when women undergraduates outnumbered men.


ANU Archives, History of the ANU

Foster, S & Varghese, M, The Making of The Australian National University, 2009, Australian National University Press, Canberra, <>