Australia’s student accommodation sector set to grow amid a growing influx of international students

Australia’s student accommodation sector set to grow amid a growing influx of international students
Growth in international student enrolments across Australian universities spurs the need for more student accommodation. Source: Shutterstock

Australia is a popular country among international students, and it’s hardly a surprise. The country is home to some of the world’s best universities, in addition to offering a high standard of living and scholarship opportunities for international students, which further adds to its appeal.

The influx of international students, especially from China, India, Malaysia and Nepal – countries that form the biggest sources of international students in Australia, according to the Department of Education and Training – is welcome news for the Australian economy.

Source: JLL Australian Student Accommodation report

Meanwhile, the country’s student accommodation sector is set to boom. Research from JLL, a global real estate services firm, titled Australian Student Accommodation, notes the following:

“By the second semester [of] 2019, there will be approximately 86,000 beds across Australia’s six largest student markets, an increase of 12,000 beds in one year. Almost 10,000 beds have opened for the 2019 academic year, with over approximately 2,500 beds expected to open for the second semester.”

The number of beds is expected to reach over 100,000 by December 2022, thanks partly to factors such as the strong growth in international students in Australian universities.

“The key demand driver for PBSA [Purpose Built Student Accommodation] is the continued strong growth in higher education international students choosing to study in Australia, which increased by 14.3 percent in 2018. China is the clear number one source country for higher education in Australia, accounting for 38.3 percent of overseas enrolments in 2018,” said the report.

The report notes that other factors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The lower Australian dollar making it more affordable for international students to enrol
  • Rise in applications and approvals of student visas, translating to higher student commencements in 2019

Meanwhile, The Urban Developer notes that “the rapid development phase of Australia’s student accommodation sector might not be enough to soak up increased demand from both domestic and international students” on Australian shores.

There may be potential for oversupply in some locations in the short term, notes JLL head of alternative investments Noral Wild.

“Demand for PBSA in Australia is still expected to grow and be driven by the low penetration rates compared to global markets and a number of demand drivers including economic conditions and increasing student numbers.”

Source: JLL Australian Student Accommodation report

The JLL report notes that “the development pipeline is strong, with Melbourne currently accounting for around 50 percent of the expected supply”.

This is not surprising, seeing that Melbourne is a top destination for international students.

“The state of Victoria attracted 34.7 percent of the national market in 2017, with Monash University being the number one destination, followed by RMIT and University of Melbourne,” said the authors.

“Based on 2017 enrolment data, the most popular destination outside of Victoria for international students was the University of Sydney. Curtin University in Perth was the only university in the top 10 destinations for overseas students outside of the eastern states.”

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