Opportunities for developers as university numbers set to spike

The demand for Australian student housing is set to boom in the coming years and it presents an opportunity for property developers.

The forecast rise in the Australian student housing sector comes from a Knight Frank report which says Australia’s purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) is growing rapidly under the weight of rising Australian and international university students.

By the end of 2018 there will have been a jump of around 20 per cent in new PBSA beds from last year and the Australian Bureau of Statistics says the number of 18-25 year-olds in the country will jump by over 100,000 by 2026 which means plenty more university students.

And according to Knight Frank Research, university enrolments from China could double over the same period. They currently sit at 124,700 and that would mean a jump to around 294,000.

There has been recent discussion around the improving quality of Chinese universities possibly reducing demand for enrolments in Australia but Knight Frank’s Paul Savitz told Property Observer he isn’t concerned.

“There has been speculation of late that because Chinese global university rankings are improving, that this may have negative consequences for Australian universities, given their part reliance on full-fee paying international students,” he said.

“However, when students are looking to study abroad, research shows that lifestyle factors are equally as important as the quality of education and because Australia offers international students a fantastic lifestyle with excellent employment opportunities, we have every confidence international student numbers will continue to rise.”

Not only do these projections provide opportunities for developers to build new PBSA developments, but also to upgrade existing university accommodation.

Mr Savitz told Property Observer the key to such developments is to establish long-term partnerships with the universities.

“Whether it’s upgrading university accommodation or targeting overseas students in the direct let market, the key is developing long term relationships with universities to help meet their specific needs and investors and developers who are able to match a university’s vision will benefit long term, much more than those who simply target particular cities,” he said.


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