Boosting housing stocks could be Australian governments’ “biggest” contribution to alleviating ‘student poverty,’ a widely reported phenomenon Down Under. Eileen Baldry, deputy vice chancellor of UNSW Sydney, says that if government quarantines social housing for students, it would help them weather an accommodation squeeze and cost-of-living crisis.
Students could face weekly rents of A$200 (Rs.11,400) instead of the A$500 typical of many Australian suburbs, or rents could be capped at 25 percent of income — as happens with other social housing schemes — leaving money to cover food, transport and education costs.
While students are not specifically excluded from social housing, waiting periods often vastly exceed the time required to complete degrees. And while the federal government has committed to bankroll 40,000 new affordable dwellings through its Housing Accord and Housing Australia Future Fund, Baldry says this will merely scratch the surface. “It needs hundreds of thousands of new dwellings to come on to the market.”
Students are facing an accommodation crunch point, with rental housing in short supply and priced beyond reach. Many purpose-built student accommodation blocks are nearing capacity as international students return to Australia in greater numbers and compete for rooms with their domestic peers. Current residents, who tend to move into less structured living arrangements after a year or so, are staying put because of the lack of rental accommodation.
Universities are examining the feasibility of re-building their own accommodation, a year or so after many boosted their Covid-depleted finances by selling off-campus residential blocks that were short of tenants amid lockdowns and border closures.