UTAS rules out floating hotel for student accommodation

The student accommodation on College Rd where the University of Tasmania will build extra accommodation for students.

After ditching the idea of a “flotel”, the University of Tasmania will repurpose the old Commerce Building at the Sandy Bay campus as it scrambles to find enough accommodation for students.

The move comes as the university reveals a student accommodation village made from shipping containers won’t be ready until the second half of the year.

The university has also considered — and then dropped — a plan for a floating hotel or “flotel” to house students amid Hobart’s acute rental shortage.

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University of Tasmania spokesman Jason Purdie says students returning to study in 2019 and those from elsewhere in Tasmania have already been offered a bed if they had applied for one. The university is now working to accommodate intending interstate and international students.

“We are thinking we are about 200 (accommodation places) short but measures we are putting in place are designed to meet that as much as we can in the time we have got,” Purdie says.

Purdie says the university had a “very good look” at a “flotel” for student housing, but the concept was ruled out after talks with stakeholders.

An image from the development application showing the position of the proposed extra accommodation at the University of Tasmania. Picture: UTAS/MORRISON AND BREYTENBACH ARCHITECTS

The refit of the old Commerce Building, off French St, would accommodate 170 students, making up a gap caused by a delay in the 180-bed shipping container village expansion at Sandy Bay.

A statement from the university says a gap in available student accommodation emerged in 2018 due to a historically tight housing market, increased student demand and a drop in turnover from the Hobart City Apartments on Melville St.

The university last month announced that it had bought Fountainside Hotel in the CBD to house students.

The university came under fire late last year for encouraging people living in its Hobart student accommodation to browse Facebook, Gumtree and real estate websites for housing after it received more applications than it could possibly meet.

This article from The Mercury originally appeared as “Commerce building refit and ‘flotel’ idea part of University of Tasmania’s push to find more student accommodation”.