03 March 2021Share
Service expansion by the Rental Advisory Service in 2021 will better assist students in locating accommodation options both before and during their studies. In the longer term, we expect this support will bolster the confidence of international students in studying in Australia,
Years from now, when most Australians reflect on COVID-19, they will most likely not recall the lack of support for international students who were studying in Australia during the outbreak of the pandemic.
The thousands of international students unable to meet their basic living needs such as food and rent during the COVID-19 pandemic is thoroughly explored in UNSW’s Professor Bassina Farbenblum and Associate Professor Laurie Berg’s report As If We Weren’t Humans, which was released last year. These are the same international students who, in 2019, injected $37.6 billion into the Australian economy.
During the Live, Learn, Thrive: IEAA Student Life Forum 2021 presentation last Friday, Professor Farbenblum identified that many international students would like to receive more information from their university regarding accommodation options. While there is no doubt this would provide students with a greater sense of connectivity to their institution, it would also ensure that students are receiving timely, tailored and correct information and advice.
The As If We Weren’t Humans report significantly influenced the establishment of ACU's Rental Advisory Service (RAS) in 2020 and has assisted many students experiencing a housing crisis due to financial distress, eviction and unemployment.
Transformation of RAS support delivery to ensure students are provided with information to help them locate safe and legitimate accommodation options prior to their arrival in Australia has been at the forefront of the service's collaboration with ACU International. As a result of this collaboration, video animations and written resources are in development for the Rental Advisory Service webpage. These will inform students of how the RAS can assist them when looking for accommodation options, or even if they are already renting privately.
The longer-term strategy for the RAS post-pandemic is already on this path and will focus on three main areas:
While the 2021 battle with the COVID-19 pandemic is predominantly focused on vaccination rollout, there is hope that international students will return to Australia to study again in 2022.
If we can continue to support international students through the Rental Advisory Service to locate safe accommodation options, we can rectify the mistakes of 2020 and see students regain confidence in Australia with regard to housing, honesty and security.