Taxes on international students who undertake tertiary study in Australia should be quashed, says the Student Accommodation Council, with purpose built student accommodation responsible for 80,000 people taken out of the residential rental market each year.

An international student levy, or ISL, is currently being floated by the Universities Accord panel which could potentially detract from overseas students studying nationwide. The flow on effect would see student accommodation dwellings become less of a priority, and place even further strain on the current housing crisis.

“Australia needs to be a magnet for global capital and the best and brightest from around the world,” says the Property Council’s Group Executive Policy and Advocacy, Matthew Kandelaars.

“We know that imposing an ISL would have far reaching effects in the Australian economy.

“With international education being Australia's top service export at $40 billion pre-pandemic, attracting 300,000 visitors annually who visit students who spend roughly $4,000 monthly in our economy, our focus should be on housing these students rather than taxing them.”

A number of student accommodation projects have been designed and delivered by architectural practices including AJC (pictured), Plus Architecture and SJB across North Sydney, Melbourne and Glebe respectively. A recent CBRE report has detailed that student accommodation demands remain high, with the required amount of units significantly more than what is in the pipeline, with only one purpose built student accommodation bed for every 16 students.

“Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) plays a vital role in providing safe, high amenity housing for students who are a vital source of life for our CBDs,” Kandelaars says.

“PBSA ensures a strong pipeline of beds and takes nearly 80,000 people each year out of the wider residential rental market – reducing demand and easing affordability. By providing a tailored housing solution exclusively for students, PBSA enhances the supply of rental housing, alleviating strain on the broader housing market.”

Kandelaars believes taxes would discourage international students from studying in Australia, and implores the federal government to incentivise the development of student accommodation much like the concessions made for the build-to-rent class in the recent Federal Budget.

“Instead of imposing taxes on students who contribute significantly to our community, the government should work with industry to expand the supply of this housing category as a priority,” he says.

“Planning approvals, removing taxes like foreign investor fees and planning systems that prioritise student accommodation close to places of study should all be a top priority for policy makers.

“It’s important that we have a strong pipeline of new PBSA assets in Australia to ensure our vital international education sector can continue to grow, and our CBDs are given a leg-up in their recovery,” he said.