An email sent on 28 January to staff at the University of Wollongong (UoW) requested they offer housing to students who are experiencing an undersupply of student accommodation. UoW is significantly populated by students from outside the city who move there for tertiary studies, many of whom seek out university-owned housing both on and near the campus.
The email distributed to staff said that “properties available for rent in both Sydney and the Illawarra are in short supply. UoW’s Housing Services team is putting a call out to any staff, as well as family and friends, that might have a spare room or a granny flat to help us welcome back our students”.
The shortage comes amidst a housing crisis plaguing regional NSW, which has seen people from larger cities moving to smaller ones now that remote working is largely accessible, leaving lower income earners, such as students, priced out of the rental market.
This year, UoW plans to further consolidate their accommodation assets. Three properties – International House, Weerona College and Marketview – will have their sales finalised this year. The properties were built to accommodate around 500 students collectively. In a media release, the sale was described as aligning with the university’s “strategic priorities”, stating that “reducing operational costs” and “tightening our expenditure controls” formed the imperatives for the sale. ”
The consolidation of housing assets is a common cost-saving measure being used by universities, and mirrors the University of Sydney’s sale of 13 residential properties last year. Last year, UTS sold three of its four student residences to Scape Australia – a housing conglomerate known for acquiring the Urbanest portfolio for a record $2.2 billion.