Heat on developers over international student housing

Groups are calling for a lift in the quality of student accommodation

THE Federal Government’s desire to attract more international students should come as a call to arms to developers and landlords, a peak ­education body says.

With Canberra keen for the nation to play host to a million foreign students by 2025, property industry leaders will play a vital role in housing them.

International Education Association of Australia chief executive Phil Honeywood has backed Trade Minister Andrew Robb’s vision to turbocharge the already booming sector.

There are 450,000 full fee-paying foreign students across the public and ­private education sector, creating­ an $18 billion industry.

“This is a wake-up call both to education providers and commercial developers to immediately and effectively act on the challenge of housing these students,” Honeywood says.

Industry groups say student accommodation standards need to improve

Industry groups say student accommodation standards need to improve

“The international education sector has often been disappointed at the lack of engagement­ by commercial developers in terms of enhancing the student experience.”

He says benchmark surveys among students have consistently rated Australia down in terms of accommodation ­affordability and poor quality housing.

What private developers have to do is better communicate with industry associations to ensure they understand not just the scale of the challenge but the social welfare needs of students in purpose-built accommodation

The association is urging builders of student lodgings to avoid creating small concrete boxes and more closely emulate hubs such as Urbanest in Carlton.

Urbanest not only provides accommodation, but also has integrated facilities including a theatre room, business centre and lounges.

“What private developers have to do is better communicate with industry associations to ensure they understand not just the scale of the challenge but the social welfare needs of students in purpose-built accommodation,” Honeywood says.

A growing student population should present an ­abundance of opportunities for developers and landlords, but they have been too slow to embrace the profit and economic potential.

Austrade and the Committee for Melbourne have joined the debate, urging developers to support a doubling in size of the international education ­industry within a decade.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne told last week’s Asia Pacific International Education Forum that teaching overseas students was our fourth biggest export industry.

This article originally appeared in the Herald Sun.