More accommodation needed as international students flock to the west

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday
More student accommodation - for both domestic and international students - is needed in Perth's city centre.

Growing demand from international students flocking to Western Australian universities has highlighted the urgent need for more student accommodation. The shortage is also impacting domestic students.

At a panel discussion in Perth on Thursday, 21 June, investors and property experts from Australia’s eastern states met to discuss ways to support the growth of education, particularly within the WA capital’s city centre.

International Education Association of Australia chief executive Phil Honeywood says the number of available student accommodation beds in the Perth CBD could be quadrupled and still not meet demand, adding that the new Edith Cowan University campus due to open its doors to students from 2026 will become a huge drawcard for both local and overseas students.

“But there really are not many options that would support this movement,” says Honeywood.

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Mindset shift needed

Lease Equity managing director Jim Tsagalis says the WA state government needs to shift its mindset around providing supporting purpose-built student accommodation.

“I think their view is that student accommodation won’t help [with the housing market] so why do any more when you have a housing crisis to fix,” he says.

“I think the state government needs to put a different lens on it.”

Although Scape is recognised as Australia’s biggest provider of purpose-built accommodation across the country, it currently doesn’t have a presence in WA.

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Chief executive Anouk Darling says bringing purpose-built accommodation to the state would help alleviate the pressure on the local rental market there – currently sitting at just 0.4 per cent.

Anouk Darling is Chief Executive of Scape Australia and says the huge under-supply of student accommodation in WA must be dealt with.

“[Student accommodation] absolutely should be considered as part of the solution,” says Darling.

“Here in WA, there are 27 students for every purpose-built accommodation bed which shows there is a huge undersupply.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]