Mixed response to new student accommodation

When opened, the Campus Perth tower on Stirling Street will have air-conditioning, lockable drawers and communal socialising areas.
Photo: Jon Christian Silva

International students will soon have a cheaper option for accommodation located in the heart of Perth, but it may not suit everyone.

Set to open in early 2019, Campus Perth is a student housing hub which will offer cost-friendly rates at $162 a week to around 700 international students.

According to its website, it is located near the Northbridge clubbing district and its facilities will include a rooftop barbecue area, a fitness club as well as concierge services.

International Student Accommodation Australia director Jodie Monteiro said while the city’s upbeat atmosphere and Campus Perth’s facilities may appeal to students, it might not be an ideal location to live.

“For one thing, these new students are out on their own and if anything should go wrong, they have very little support from anyone,” she said.

Ms Monteiro said he believed international students would be better off living with a host family or on campus.

“At least they have a family to fall back on if they choose the homestaying route,” she said.

“If they stay in the city, they are likely to mix with people of their ethnicity and will not use the opportunity to mingle with people from around the world.”

Campus Perth is one of four student housing towers operating under the Perth Education City project, a joint initiative of Western Australian universities keen on promoting safe, city-based accommodation to address the state’s recent decline in international student intake.

Statistics from the Department of Immigration and Border Control showed a seven percent drop in Western Australia’s international student intake last year.

Milner International College of English director Matt Milner said the decline in numbers had not only impacted Western Australia financially but the student accommodation industry too.

“There is an oversupply of student accommodation in Perth but less students coming here, which makes me wonder how viable new student accommodation developments are,” he said.

Of the new Campus Perth setup, he felt students who opted to stay there were bound by one mode of accommodation and that they may benefit from the homestaying concept instead.

“For those hailing from Latin America and some Asian countries, convenience, affordable pricing and proximity to family are important,” he said.

“For others from Japan and Switzerland, it is an authentic Australian family experience which they would be interested in.

“Hence, that is the reason why they overwhelmingly choose homestay.”

Singaporean parent Maggie Soon said she would not have let her daughter, who studied at Curtin University, stay at Campus Perth.

“I guess one of the perks from living there would be the luxury of hanging out in town after school,” she said.

“But she would not have been familiar with her surroundings and there is the issue of the neighbourhood’s safety.”

Ms Soon’s daughter stayed at Erica Underwood, one of Curtin University’s on-campus accommodation facilities.

“At Erica, my daughter was living opposite the campus so there was little chance she would get lost and the area was generally safe,” she said.

Ms Soon also said the camaraderie within the living quarters was crucial too.

Kellsie Chua, a university student from Singapore who lives in a rented room, shared Ms Soon’s sentiments about getting along with one’s housemates.

“I think there has to be respect for one another, like if I am studying, the others should understand and not do anything to disrupt my focus,” she said.

“Staying at a place like Campus Perth sounds great to me but it would depend on factors like the distance to school, the fees I would pay and the distraction of living near Northbridge, which is a bustling area with all the nightlife activities.”