Student housing on the Gold Coast at a premium as international enrolment skyrockets

Student housing on the Gold Coast at a premium as international enrolment skyrockets

Gold Coast residents are being urged to open their homes to international students in a bid to help ease a shortage of rental properties in the city.

Key points: Gold Coast landlords asked to rent spare rooms to international students. They can earn up to $325 a week depending on the arrangement. The city is dealing with an influx of international students

There has been an influx of overseas students into the city since international borders reopened last year, putting pressure on an already strained rental market.

In February 2022, there were 13,000 international students studying in the city.

That increased sharply to around 23,000 in October as the sector recovered from pandemic border closures.

The increased demand has led council-funded industry body Study Gold Coast to urge local landlords to consider renting out their spare rooms to students.

The group has partnered with four homestay providers to launch an initiative called Host for the Coast that connects home owners with international students.

It is hoped the program will help address the tight rental market.

Those interested will be matched with an overseas student by an approved homestay provider.

Study Gold Coast expects to see the biggest influx of overseas students in four years. (ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

Homeowners will have the option to choose whether to offer short- or long-term accommodation, as well as other arrangements, including food and transport. In return, they can earn up to $325 per week.

Jennine Tax, acting chief executive of Study Gold Coast, said the organization was bracing for the “biggest influx of international students to the Gold Coast seen in four years” due to an increase in enrollments for the March intake.

She believes the home stay strategy will help ease the demand for student accommodation.

“It’s really just a great opportunity to open up your home to the world, to provide an opportunity for your family to have that cultural experience, and also for those families who may be suffering mortgage stress,” Ms Tax said .

Christian and Hannele Ulrichsen hosted hundreds of students in their home.(Supplied)

One couple said they hosted more than 200 international students in their Gold Coast home over a 16-year period.

Mr Ulrichsen said renting a room offered both social and financial benefits.

“It’s a good revenue stream,” he said.

“It will help alleviate the rent problems that people are facing and so on because rents have gone through the roof.”

Student accommodation is reaching capacity

Many purpose-built student accommodation apartments on the Gold Coast are already at capacity, including Varsity Towers in Robina and Nexus Place in Ashmore.

Smith Collective in Southport, which offers more than 1,200 rental apartments and townhouses, has been “full for the last 12 months”, according to general manager Matt Taplin.

“Students make up 20 percent of the people who live here. We’d love to take in more, but there’s only so much space,” he said.

“Until people start building, nothing is going to change. I can’t see demand softening in the next 18 months. Once you’re full, you’re full.”

This comes as the Chinese government recently announced that its citizens will be banned from studying online at overseas institutions.

The move is expected to drive more Chinese students to study in Australia in person.

Despite the looming logistical challenges, Ms Tax welcomed the move.

“It’s a win because when our students study abroad compared to onshore, we really miss out on that contribution they make to our local community, to the campuses and to our local economy,” she said.

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