Student accommodation gets a make-over

The number of international students moving to Australia will continue accelerating over the next few years as student accommodation goes luxury.

Private baths, high-speed internet and modern furnishings are now big priorities for money spinning international students according to Colliers International national director of Student Services Eddie Liew.

"Today's sophisticated student consumers demand more and expect the modern conveniences they grew up with," he said.

Forget cramped rooms and smelly corridors – student lodges are now up-market.

"Fully equipped kitchens, living areas, bright funky common areas and recreational amenities are seen as necessities," said Mr Liew.

The international student sector is Australia's third-largest export, after coal and iron, and is worth $12.5 billion a year.

Australian Government's Australian Education International figures show that 459,692 international students were in Australia in July – an 18.9 per cent increase on the same period in 2007.

Strong growth markets include China, India, Nepal and Vietnam.

Mr Liew said student enrolments were continuously growing. "There is a shortage of purpose built quality and contemporary student accommodation due to the increasing numbers of students coming to Australia to study.

"The student occupancy levels are running at almost 100 per cent across the portfolio of three student accommodation building managed by Colliers International," Mr Liew said. These include the UV Apartments in Adelaide, UNIsity student apartments and Campus 15 in Melbourne.

"At Colliers International, we provide innovative solutions, pastoral care and advice regarding modern housing options and configurations that will support student's academic mission as well as social aspirations," said Mr Liew.

"Across Australia, many developers have already identified student accommodation housing as a niche market," he said.

Mr Liew said Adelaide had a shortfall of modern student housing within the CBD – with the number of overseas student visiting more than doubling in the past five years to reach 23,500.

"Australian education is increasingly being recognised as being one of the best and ‘good value for money'," he said.

"Australia's main strengths in attracting international students include good climate and lifestyle, perception as a ‘safe country' with cultural diversity, and relatively low living costs and availability of employment for students.

"The majority of education providers expect to grow by 5-10 per cent per year for the next three years," he said.

"If this trend is to continue then there is increasingly a need to develop more student accommodation," he said.

Mr Liew said Australian standards were not far behind those in countries such as USA, UK and Europe, where educational accommodation has a much longer history. "Many overseas countries who have been relying on the education sector as an income earner will continue to put strong emphasis in developing student housing to meet modern needs," he said.

"We see Australia will have to do the same in order to compete well and position ourselves internationally in the provision of student accommodation facilities in order to get a continue influx of overseas students market."