Scenes at the ANU School of Music earlier in the year as Students and the wider-community are protested proposed changes to the school. Photo: Rohan Thomson
The Australian National University has conceded that the controversy over its School of Music has hurt demand for enrolments in 2013.
The number of students nominating ANU as their first preference for study has dropped by 200 compared to 2012 preferences, while the amount of overall preferences has declined by more than 1000 according to figures published by the University Admissions Centre on Thursday.
The fall in preferences is part of a trend across the whole university sector, which has seen a decline of 14,000 in the total number of preferences listed by students.
But ANU deputy vice-chancellor, Marnie Hughes-Warrington, said the saga surrounding the School of Music's restructure had affected admission requests for the school.
A major structural overhaul was announced at the school in May to make courses more vocational and less performance-based in a bid to save $1.5 million a year in costs.
''They're down [the numbers] and we anticipated that to be the case, but we're comfortable,'' Professor Hughes-Warrington said.
''There's no question that the negative press around music has been unhelpful.
''We've even had some people say that music has closed down altogether, which it hasn't.
''The important message is that music is there and we're looking forward to seeing it grow over the next couple of years.''
Professor Hughes-Warrington said the controversy had not hurt other signature ANU courses, such as international relations and law, whose popularity had increased among school leavers.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor added that many students waited until January to lock in their choices.
''We're actually seeing significant increases in first preferences for some of our most popular programs.
''The bachelor of international relations and bachelor of laws are actually up by 40 per cent against last year.
The University of Canberra (UC) meanwhile recorded a slight increase of about 20 in the number of students listing one of its courses as their first preference, while the Australian Catholic University's first preferences are up by over 441 on last year's figures.
UC vice-chancellor, Stephen Parker, said an overhaul of campus facilities and the university's high profile deal with the ACT Brumbies had boosted its reputation.
''The other point I'd make is we've grown by 50 per cent in the last five years so to even have slight growth in first preferences is really good,'' he said.
Australian Catholic University Provost, Pauline Nugent, said higher demand for its courses could be explained by the popularity of newer degrees, including paramedicine at its Canberra campus, and the support the university offered to first year students.
Applicants can change their preferences until January 4 for inclusion in the main round university offers.