A plan to bring back international students will support Western Australia’s economic recovery and revitalise Perth’s CBD, says the Property Council WA.

In the lead up to the state election on 13 March, the Property Council is calling on political parties to outline their commitments to a safe international student return program.

Property Council WA Executive Director Sandra Brewer says Western Australia’s relative success in managing the pandemic makes the state an attractive destination for international students.

“International students fund our universities, make a $2 billion contribution to our state economy and create vibrancy in our urban areas. These students are also future leaders with connections to our nearest trading partners,” Ms Brewer says.

A report prepared for the Purpose-Built Student Accommodation Industry Working Group in February found international student tuition has a multiplier effect of 4.12 – meaning for every $1 spent, $4.12 flows into the economy.

“We need an international student strategy that supports our economic recovery and can bring vibrancy to Perth’s city centre beyond the traditional business functions.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were just 10 international student arrivals to Western Australia in December 2020, a decrease of 2,310 students (-99.6%) compared to December 2019.

In comparison, the borders to Canada, the UK, the US and Ireland are largely open – even as coronavirus cases are far higher than Australia’s.

Some Australian jurisdictions are already implementing safe student return programs. Charles Darwin University, in collaboration with the Northern Territory and federal governments, began a pilot program in December which saw 63 international students return to Australia to continue their studies. The university estimates that these students will contribute more than $40,000 to the local economy each year.

“Reactivating Perth’s reputation as a university city is at the heart of the $1.5 billion Perth City Deal. Without a sufficient student population to support ongoing investment, there is no deal,” Ms Brewer adds.

Under the tripartite agreement, construction of new inner-city campuses for Edith Cowan, Curtin and Murdoch universities will bring 25,000 students and staff into the city, as well as an estimated $1 billion of investment and 4,100 construction jobs.

Ms Brewer says the incoming government must also commit to continued support of StudyPerth to attract international students to WA universities.

“StudyPerth has played an instrumental role in elevating the profile of WA with international students. Supporting StudyPerth to attract more international students will boost our state’s population, create new jobs, generate economic activity and underpin housing delivery over the coming years.”

Property Council WA’s election platform, Recovery and Growth: Powered by Property, outlines five actions the incoming WA Government can take to ensure the property industry is enabled to drive performance, accelerate development and investment, and create jobs.

Media contact:  Emily Young | P 0475 161 328 | E [email protected]