University housing graduates to the next level

University housing graduates to the next level
University housing graduates to the next level

Demand for student housing at the cheaper end of the market is down, but the market for accommodation tailored for university graduates is booming, with several major projects in the pipeline.

The number of foreign students enrolled in university courses in Australia continues to rise, while overall university student numbers decline.

According to official government numbers, from March 2010 to March 2011 higher education visa enrolments increased by 3.6% to 204,950, making up 53% of the 390,000 foreign students enrolled in studies in Australia. Most of the others are on VET visas. 

A year ago, students on higher education visas made up just 46% of the student market.

Students also contribute significantly to the economy, spending money on tuition and living expenses (including rent). 

The latest ABS migration data finds that from 2004-05 to 2008-09 education related spending by international students increased from $8 billion to $15.9 billion.

To meet the growing demand local and overseas property groups are investing heavily in new student housing projects within walking distance of or a short commute to universities.

Construction information provider Cordell says the number of new student accommodation projects in the pipeline has doubled in the past year, and projects currently on the go are worth more than $6 billion.

Melbourne’s Monash University, Sydney University, the University of NSW and Australian National University are all building or planning new student apartment buildings.

Architects Nettleton Tribe are working student accommodation projects including an $80 million, 485 apartment project for ANU being built by Baulderstone Hornibrook due to be completed in 2012. The company has also provided tenders for accommodation projects proposals put out by the University of Technology, Sydney and Southern Cross University for its Gold Coast and Coffs Harbour campuses.

Two of the bigger providers, Urbanest and Campus Living Villages, both have projects in the development pipeline targeting the university accommodation market.

In February Urbanest gained approval for a 30-storey student accommodation building in La Trobe Street in the Melbourne CBD.

Designed by Melbourne-based architecture firm DKO, the Melbourne development will be the tallest student accommodation building in Melbourne. It will be only 700 metres from the Royal Melbourne Institute Technology and just 1.7 kilometres from the University of Melbourne in Albert Park.

Urbanest CEO Andrew Lee says demand for its apartments “proves there is a strong demand within the domestic and international student market for a better accommodation solution”.

“This particular market is growing increasingly savvy and fast refusing overcrowded, unsafe and often unregulated student accommodation,” he says.

The up-market nature of the developments is outlined by Urbanest projects director James Childs, who says the objective is to offer students “privacy, with their own room and en suite” and the upper floors will offer “stunning views across Melbourne”.

Environmental initiatives include solar-heated hot water, recycled water, energy efficient glazing and the use of materials from sustainable sources.

CLV, which opened its flagship 1,021-bed, $127 million University of New South Wales Village in 2010, is working with planning consultants Urbis to develop “high-quality, affordable student accommodation” on land adjacent to University of Western Australia, following State Government approval in September 2010.

Urbanest opened new buildings in Adelaide and Sydney in February, both within walking distance of major universities.

The $57 million Adelaide student building on the corner of North Terrace and Bank Street has accommodation for 500 students and is just 650 metres from the University of Adelaide North Terrace campus. The $60 million Sydney CBD building at 83 Quay Street in Haymarket has accommodation for 334 students and is next door to the University of Technology, Sydney, and 10 minutes to the University of Sydney. 

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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