Rooms to begin refilling from December as students prepare for semester one 2022. Image – Canva
  • An industry that found itself victim to border closures is now beaming with optimism
  • An estimated 150,000 visa-holding international students are waiting to enter the country
  • Australian Student Accommodation 2021 report has been released

Optimism abounds in the university accommodation industry as eased border restrictions herald a flood of international students.

Once a booming $40 billion dollar industry, the sector has been one of the victims of Australia’s international border closures with overseas students barred from entering the country.

In 2021 the sector contracted to an estimated $23 billion.

According to the recently released Australian Student Accommodation 2021 report by Savills Australia, student accommodation services has experienced significantly increased enquiries since the announcement of border relaxations.

Booking rates have reportedly been strong, some operators even indicating 50% booking rates in early December.

Director of Operational Capital Markets at Savills Australia, Paul Savitz, recognises the significance of the sector to Australia’s economic standing.

“This significant reduction in revenue has impacted on government budgets and provided the impetus, alongside world-leading vaccination rates, for the large-scale reopening of the Australian border to returning international students and beyond,” Mr Savitz said.

Enrolments Remained High Despite Border Closures

Source: Department of Education, Skills and Employment; Savills

International education was the most significant service based export in Australia’s pre-pandemic economy.

While enrolments from overseas pupils may have taken a dip, they have actually remained relatively high since the onset of the pandemic considering the border closures.

International pupils may have chosen to remain in the country, postpone their studies or continue remotely online.

The report estimated up to 150,000 visa-holding international students are standing by to return to Australia.

Housing supply as overseas students flood back

Mr Savitz has also warned of what the return of overseas pupils might mean for our housing supply.

“The residential rental markets in several capital cities have bounced back from a period of softness in 2020 with decreasing vacancy rates and increasing rental levels,”

Paul Savitz, Savills Australia

“This trend will continue into 2022 and will be exacerbated by increasing levels of demand from students and non-students for rental accommodation once the international border opens.

“As rental markets continue to tighten, and become more expensive overall than pre-covid, alongside the historic undersupply of student accommodation, Savills expects the prompt recovery of purpose-built student accommodation occupancy and rents” he continued.

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