The Unsung Hero Underpinning Australia’s Largest Service Export

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Launched in November 2022, the Unsung Hero campaign highlighted the economic contribution of students who live in purpose built student accommodation (PBSA)  and the importance of focusing on the sector that provides housing for the $40 billion international education sector (pre-pandemic valuation) .

Following the impacts of the pandemic, including closed borders and vacant CBDs, the intention of the campaign is to draw attention from political leaders and policymakers to the economic importance of the sector and unlock investment opportunities.

The campaign was built on the back of the first report commissioned by the Student Accommodation Council, that looked at the scale, supply and economic impact of the PBSA sector. It was the first time these metrics had been tracked in their entirety Australia wide, and the results revealed the staggering economic contribution of students to our cities.

The report was released at the Property Council’s What’s Next for Student Accommodation event in Sydney and also highlighted the increasing role PBSA plays in housing Australian students, who now make up a quarter of all students living in private sector PBSA. It received significant national coverage in both The Australian and the AFR, and subsequently  garnered thousands of media hits via radio and subsequent media reporting.

The research found students living in PBSA spend almost as much per month as the average Australian – $4,400 per month not including tuition, while the average Australian spends $4,600 including children and dependants – with almost all of this being spent in CBDs.

The Student Accommodation Council’s Executive Director Torie Brown said the report showcases the crucial contribution the student accommodation sector makes to the Australian economy. “This report shows that students living in PBSA are good spenders, and importantly, they’re spending it in our recovering CBDs where PBSA sites are located.

“What’s clear in this report is the vital role PBSA plays in releasing pressure on the housing market, because students living in these buildings aren’t competing with mums and dads for private rentals. Without PBSA, we would have tens of thousands more people hunting for rentals in an already tight rental market, which would drive prices to even more unaffordable levels.

“The last thing we want is our housing supply or rental market crisis to become a handbrake on our education sector because we have nowhere for prospective students to live.”

Find out more about this campaign and access resources below.

The Unsung Hero Underpinning Australia’s Largest Service Export Report
Media Release | New report reveals extent of student spending