Why Australians stay at home to study

Living in university accommodation is beyond the means of the average Australian student.

“The average cost of on-campus student accommodation in Australia is $233 per week over a 46-week contract period (including utilities and other compulsory costs).  This is around 25% higher than the average student’s capacity to pay indicating that most students living in student accommodation have incomes above the average and likely supplemented by Government allowances and family support,” consultants Urbis find in an analysis for the Halsey Review of regional education (CMM yesterday.)

And metro-universities keen to expand their interstate markets have a way to go before the idea of moving to study takes hold, with Urbis estimating just 29 000 Australian students from metropolitan areas study at campuses more than 60kms from home.

Costs and technology are also combining to encourage regional students to study from home. The proportion of regional students studying on-campus is down, from 80 per cent in 2006 to 63 per cent in 2016, as they stay at home and study on-line.  Urbis estimates this trend will continue; “in the medium to longer term there is the potential to expand online learning opportunities for students with satellite teaching facilities in smaller towns that leverage video conferencing and similar technologies.  This could be combined with shorter intense teaching periods where students travel to the main campus for intensive classes, reducing their requirement to seek long term accommodation.”

Regional students already resist the bright lights of big cities, with 80 per cent of those from regional NSW, resisting the lure of Sydney. Melbourne’s attraction is more appealing, with 72 per cent of students from regional Victoria moving to town. There is an even-split in Queensland and Tasmania, with SA (93 per cent) and WA (88 per cent) having the highest percentages of country kids moving to the big smoke.


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