Photo: Pixabay/StockSnap.

Excessive housing costs are inflicting rent stress and mortgaging students’ wellbeing and education, reveals a new study.

Anglicare Australia’s 2017 Student Housing Study, conducted in partnership with the National Union of Students, canvassed almost 2,000 students, finding prohibitively expensive housing was stretching many students to near breaking point.

The report said students living on-campus were among the worst off, paying high rents for often poorly cleaned facilities with too few bathrooms, and little choice of roommates.

Key findings

  • 55% of students are having negative experiences where they live. This includes 49% who are struggling with rent costs and 34% who live in poorly maintained accommodation.
  • 89% of students said that they’ve struggled to buy essential study items like text books. This includes 55% who say that they frequently struggle to afford these items.
  • 76% of students are in paid work. This includes 64% who work more than 10 hours a week, and 19% who work more than 20 hours a week.
  • 82% of working students said that the amount of time they spend at work hurts their studies.
  • 85% of students do not believe that Centrelink provides them with enough to live and study

On living experiences

Students living off-campus spend up to three hours a day in transit because accommodation costs near university are too high, adding unnecessary pressure to already high workloads.

“More than ever, young people are expected to attend university if they can. But there are massive obstacles for students whose parents can’t afford to support them,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

“Students who rely on Youth Allowance or Austudy are struggling to pay rent and make ends meet. And many of those who aren’t eligible have to work so many hours that it is harming their studies.

“Huge numbers of students have told us that Centrelink has paid them incorrectly or sent them a debt notification – even when they are reporting correctly and meeting all the requirements.

“Anglicare agencies work with young people facing major obstacles to study, like those leaving out-of-home care. We’ve known for a long time that income support payments are too low and that Centrelink systems are in urgent need of reform. This survey confirms it,” Ms Chambers said.

Anglicare Australia said accommodation was the underpinning factor in a “nexus of stress” that jeopardised students’ mental health and left them at risk of dropping out of their studies.

“We are particularly encouraging young people on low incomes to go to university,” said Anglicare policy and research director Imogen Ebsworth, who co-authored the report. “Yet we’re making it so difficult for people to have a quality university experience, and we pay for that.”

Report recommendations

  • This year’s report recommends that Youth Allowance, Austudy and Abstudy rates be raised to “cover the real costs of living, including housing.”
  • The implementation of a national renter’s rights plan that delivers consistent and fair renting conditions for all Australians, including support and access to those rights for students living in university accommodation.

The report acknowledges that the respondents were self-selecting and therefore not necessarily representative of students.

What do you think about the issues raised here? Let us know! is Australia's largest company dedicated to renters and is owned and operated by ASX-listed Limited (RNT:ASX). For over 15 years, has exclusively focused on making renters' lives easier by making it easier to find a property, secure it, move in and pay rent.