Current Scope of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation in Melbourne: Planning and Preparing for The Supported Return of International University Students Post COVID-19

Presenter: Sam Miles
Author and Affiliations:
Sam Miles, Monash University and Queen’s College (The University of

Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) is a housing type that has significantly developed in recent years and is increasingly a key tenure type of international university students coming to Melbourne to study. Australian universities have traditionally played a much less active role in the housing of international students than its major sector competitors in the United States and the UK, with comparatively limited Residential College and Hall of Residence accommodation types being offered by universities in Melbourne. This has resulted in the private market through an increasingly reduced amount of PBSA providers filling the demand for student housing near major universities in centralised areas. Most recently, individual universities themselves have begun to undertake their own PBSA builds to house their incoming students. This paper sets to provide a foundational quantitative understanding of the rapidly developing PBSA environment in Australia by providing a complete and detailed bed and provider national census across all PBSA types. This research will enable benchmarking of the sector and comparison between cities and will help to plan for the supported return of international students post COVID-19. Some forms of PBSA have been shown to provide acculturative, mental health and academic benefits to student residents. A current dip in international student enrolments pushes PBSA to consider other occupants than primarily international university students, with a diverse look to local domestic students both undergraduate and postgraduate, mobile interstate and intrastate students as well as international students studying in the VET, ELICOS and Non-Award sectors. With some council areas in central Melbourne with a current high concentration of transient international students expected to double in total population size over the next 20 years, we can expect a much more dense urban form in the future across Melbourne and PBSA is likely to play a significant role in housing.

About Author

Sam Miles

Affiliation/s: Monash University and Queen’s College (The University of Melbourne)

I am a second-year PhD Candidate researching the living and mental wellbeing experiences of Mainland Chinese and Indian undergraduate international university students living in Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) in Melbourne. I currently also both work and live at a Residential College and as a sessional tutor at The University of Melbourne in Urban Planning. Prior to this, I worked in federal and state politics across Adelaide and Melbourne, university student services at UniMELB as well as a youth/disability/homelessness social worker after a couple of years studying and working in Copenhagen and Istanbul. I have an Honours 1 in Urban, Regional, Social & Community Planning (UniSA) and postgraduate degrees in International Relations and Politics from both The University of Adelaide and UniMELB. I am interested in issues relating to the student experience, politics of higher education, tertiary education policy, social capital and fostering relationships between domestic and international students.

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