The truth about international students and rental crisis


International students, who account for a mere 4% of Australia’s rental market, are not to blame for the country’s persistent housing crisis, according to a groundbreaking study published by the Student Accommodation Council. The Property Council reported this clarification shortly after widespread concerns were voiced regarding the potential impact of international students on housing affordability and availability.

The report challenges the misconception that international students are driving the housing shortage. The increase in rent, which began in 2020, coincides with a period of reduced international student numbers due to the pandemic.

“International students have been unfairly blamed for the rental crisis, yet this report shows that long-term structural issues in Australia’s housing market are the real cause of rental pressures,” said Torie Brown, executive director of the Student Accommodation Council.

There seems to be a double standard in public perception, as Brown pointed out, since more domestic students than international students live in rental homes.

Despite ongoing developments, the projected supply of new purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) will fall short of demand. The report suggested that an additional 66,000 new beds are needed by 2026 to prevent more international students from spilling into the private rental market.

Anouk Darling, chair of the Student Accommodation Council and CEO of Scape, pointed out the challenges in expanding PBSA infrastructure, including slow planning processes and high costs influenced by property taxes and legislation.

The growing trend of smaller households, migration within states, short term rental (yes, you Airbnb), and the transformation of living spaces into offices are some of the factors cited in the report as contributing to the worsening housing crisis. 

Instead of blaming foreign students, we need to address the root cause of this problem. 


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