Page 2275 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 1 August 2017

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On-campus accommodation is also good for university students. Students living on campus enjoy the convenience of not having to travel to get to classes and being close to the support provided by their peer and friendship groups. In addition, student housing allows students from outside Canberra to secure housing before their arrival. Many students who move to Canberra to study are living away from home for the first time and benefit greatly from the safe and supportive environment that good quality student housing provides.

The government supported the UC’s expansion of student housing under the NRAS by providing the UC with $80 million in loans and credit facilities to finance the construction and refurbishment of student dwellings. As a result, the UC has opened three new student housing facilities under the scheme since 2012. Combined, these three facilities contain 957 units with the capacity to house almost 1,400 students. These facilities include Weeden Lodge, opened in two stages in 2012 and 2014 and housed within the newly refurbished Cameron Offices buildings next to the UC campus. These historic buildings, formerly home to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, have been given a new lease of life as accommodation for the next generation of thinkers and leaders. The remaining facilities comprise Cooper Lodge and UC Lodge, opened in 2014 and 2017 respectively. These all-new buildings in the centre of the UC campus include spacious common areas, private study spaces and convenient ground floor shops.

The government has now completed a review of the new accommodation’s impact on student rental affordability at UC. The review found that the government’s investment in the new facilities has had a positive effect on student housing affordability. The 957 new units have nearly doubled the total number of student dwellings at UC. Further, the new dwellings have made the overall price of student accommodation at UC lower. Since the first new dwellings were introduced, the median price of student accommodation at UC has fallen six per cent. Student uptake of the new dwellings has also been high, with 91 per cent of NRAS accommodation places at UC occupied in 2017. This is considerably higher than the occupancy rate for older, pre-NRAS accommodation at UC. The new dwellings are clearly giving students a product they want.

University students often face a choice between living on campus and renting privately. For this reason the review also compared the prices of the new NRAS accommodation to comparable properties offered on Canberra’s private rental market. It found that since 2012 almost all of the new dwellings have consistently been priced below equivalent private rental properties. The review noted that some larger multi-bedroom dwellings are currently priced above the market but also that the price of many of these larger dwellings had decreased over the period and was now lower in 2017 than in any other year. Overall, more than 90 per cent of the new NRAS accommodation at UC was priced below the market in 2017. When taken with the unique advantages of living on campus, it is clear that this new accommodation represents excellent value for students.

This is an exciting time for the UC. Next year the University of Canberra public hospital will also open at the UC’s main campus. This state-of-the-art medical

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