25/09/2018 - 09:52

Private builds for foreign students

25/09/2018 - 09:52


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SPECIAL REPORT: Accommodation groups are betting on international students returning to Perth.

Private builds for foreign students
Tony Chisholm is working with stakeholders to promote Perth as a student destination.

SPECIAL REPORT: Accommodation groups are betting on international students returning to Perth.

Two major student housing projects set for completion early next year are indicative of private operators’ enthusiasm for opportunities in Perth, amid expectations international student numbers in Perth will grow.

In the first quarter of 2018, Western Australia experienced a 13 per cent decline in international student commencements, compared with the previous two years. In contrast, rival states South Australia and Tasmania had a 9 per cent and 28 per cent increase, respectively.

The recent state government announcement of a new Graduate Skilled Migration List to help attract international post-graduate students has been welcomed by the education sector, which had been affected by the government removing Perth from the regional sponsored migration scheme.


Campus Perth, a DevWest Group joint development with Gaw Capital and its hospitality arm GCP Hospitality, is due for completion in time for students to move in ahead of the 2019 academic year.

Located on Stirling Street on the fringe of Northbridge, it will have more than 700 beds over 11 floors, and plenty of communal space to designed to enable students to balance academic pursuits with social life and wellness.

Co-working spaces with the latest technology will allow collaboration and private meeting rooms, while Campus Perth will also feature a fitness club and a rooftop barbecue area.

Its rival development on the other side of Stirling Street, The Boulevard, is a joint venture between developer Stirling Capital and global student accommodation manager GSA.

It will house 571 beds in self-contained studios and shared apartments over 23 levels, and also feature communal study areas, a gym, library and a rooftop event space.

Both ventures are marketing to prospective students with a promise of creating a safe and exciting community, with close and easy access to Northbridge, the CBD and, of course, their studies.

GCP has more than 7,500 rooms under its management across four brands – Hotels G, Residence, The Strand and its student accommodation brand, Campus.

GCP chief operations officer Tony Chisholm said Campus Perth had already received more than 2,000 inquiries from prospective students, and he was confident the accommodation would be full ahead of first term next year.

“This time next year we will potentially have 1,000 students running around Campus Perth,” he said.

“Being an international student in that environment allows them to get into a group and enjoy the city. Everything they need is right on their doorstop, they don’t even need to get on a train.”

GCP was working with Perth’s universities, StudyPerth, the Australian Hotels Association and other groups to coordinate marketing to key overseas markets, Mr Chisholm said.

Two further accommodation projects targeting international students have been announced, but are yet to proceed.

In May last year, the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority announced Cedar Pacific had been selected to develop a 550-bed facility as part of the City Link precinct.

Another project has been approved on the corner of Wellington and Pier streets in the CBD, by developer Blue Sky Private Real Estate and operator Atira Student Living. It will cater for more than 700 students commencing 2020.

Shadow tourism minister Libby Mettam has been critical of the government for removing Perth from the regional sponsored migration scheme, which she says is dissuading prospective international students from enrolling in Perth.

“The decision by the McGowan government to remove incentives for international students to stay here, the changes to the state skills list, and the removal of Perth from the regional sponsored migration scheme, have had a big impact on diverting people from Perth to the competing states of South Australia and Tasmania,” Ms Mettam said.

“While most international students often don’t go on for further employment, the decision to actually come to a state is based very much on what opportunities are there.”

A survey undertaken by Study Perth found 62 per cent of prospective international students would choose a university with a high graduate employment rate over high satisfaction ratings.

“The removal of the potential to migrate to WA, while it’s not often something that’s fulfilled by these students, it’s effectively taking away another incentive to study here,” Ms Mettam told Business News.

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia highlighted extensive marketing in China and India to attract international students to Perth, as well as the ongoing work by government to get direct flights operating from India to Perth, and to win additional flights from China.

“We’ve launched a portal inside the firewall in China, which will market to parents and students selling WA as a destination,” Mr Papalia said.

“The universities are all working together under our leadership, for the first time, to sell the state as a destination and then they can choose their preferred institution.

“That will work but I think the biggest single thing we can do is get new flights from those direct markets in China and India.

“At the moment we are just marketing WA but it is more of a challenge if you don’t have a flight to get on and go straight to Perth.”


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