AUT this week invited students to apply for places in the new twin-tower 697-unit high-rise accommodation block near its main inner-city Auckland campus.
Just as the pandemic decimates the international student market, construction of the towering units has been completed and places are ready to be occupied early next year.
The new AUT-leased block adds to already burgeoning student accommodation just as overseas enrolments drop. All up, 2871 new AUT and Auckland University student accommodation rooms either opened this year or will do so next year, or are planned in the CBD by 2023. They are:
• 697 rooms at Mayoral Drive/WQ leased to AUT, opening next year;
• 786 rooms at Waipārūrū Hall, Auckland University's new Whitaker Pl twin towers opened this year;
• 488 self-catered rooms at Te Tirohanga by Auckland University, also opened this year;
• Stage three at Auckland University's Carlaw Park village approved a further 900 units by 2023.
The Mayoral Drive Student Accommodation building or WQ building leased to AUT opens for semester one on March 1. The block is on the corner of Wakefield St and Mayoral Drive.
An AUT spokesperson said the university did not own that big new building but only leased apartments there.
The new tower block is managed by Unilodge and open to all students, not just AUT.
"We are now taking expressions of interest from new or current students who are interested in living there," the university said.
Unilodge is advertising single studio units in the WQ block from $375/week. Students must be 18 years old and for that money, they get a king single bed, kitchenette with fridge and microwave, study and chair, bathroom and storage space.
Rent includes electricity, gas and unlimited Wi-Fi.
CBRE Research said last year New Zealand's eight universities had about 113,000 full-time students and 15,346 student accommodation beds were offered nationwide, allowing for a similar ratio of beds to students as in Australia.
"There are a further 87,000 students attending polytechnics, wananga and private training establishments, however, these students are less likely to be in dedicated student accommodation," CBRE said.
AUT said it was proud to announce its new WQ block would open next year. The project was purpose-built and had outstanding features, including a recreation centre, sports court, common area with table tennis and social dining areas
"The focus will be on domestic students and those finishing secondary school but there are international students who could stay or continue university here rather than further afield or back home, so that's another group of potential residents in the building," a spokesperson said.
Icon Construction built the building for owner Cedar Pacific, an international business.
"It's only just gone to market so there are no numbers to share right now," the AUT spokesperson said when asked how many of the units had been filled.
Auckland University opened the new Waipārūrū Hall on Whitaker Pl alongside the motorway in the Grafton Gully. That 786-residence project is within a 1km walk of the general library building.
A university spokesman said of the Grafton Gully twin-towers buildings today: "Only one tower opened for semester one and it was full. The other opened during semester two. Both towers are 100 per cent contracted for 2021."
All rooms there are furnished with a king single bed, table, wardrobe, desk, chair, mirror and air-con units.
Next year, a room there is going for $412/week for a place with a shared bathroom or $435/week with its own ensuite bathroom.
Dominion Constructors built that project.
Auckland University said that new twin-towers brought its student accommodation levels up to 4500 beds.
"This makes this country's leading university the largest provider of student accommodation in Aotearoa New Zealand," a statement issued last October said.
Micheal Rengers, associate director of accommodation, said that 10 years ago the university had close to the least amount of student accommodation of the eight universities, but the increasing difficulty of finding affordable flats in Auckland resulted in a strategic decision to commit to meeting this need.
Since 2009, when the university provided 1300 beds, availability had more than tripled, with both first year and ongoing students being taken into consideration with a range of catered and independent living options. This growth represents investment of more than $600m, most of it from the private sector.
"However, although the university tenants a number of these properties, all of the accommodation is operated by the university – none of it is outsourced," Rengers said.
"We control the properties, invite and accept the students who apply, and look after all elements of pastoral care. All our accommodation is regarded as part of wider university responsibility, including our commitment to the care of students, how buildings are managed from a security point of view, and even down to the roles of the residential advisers," he said.
Students could move from traditional school leaver hostel-style living to more independence. The university had opened a new hall of residence almost every year since 2012, he said.
In 2019, 324 beds were added for first-year students with the redeveloped Grafton Hall. A further 786 were developed at Waipārūrū and 488 self-catered places at Te Tirohanga in Anzac Ave.
The university spokesman said today: "Te Tirohanga was expected to have full occupancy this year but international students were affected by Covid travel restrictions. It is expected to be at 60 per cent occupancy in March next year."
Development of stage three of the Carlaw Park student village was also approved, Auckland University said.
Carlaw Park is New Zealand's largest purpose-built self-catered student accommodation for new and returning undergraduate and postgraduate students.
"Currently home to 700 residents in a combination of two, three, and four-bedroom apartments, the new stage will provide another 900 beds when it opens in 2023," the university said.
That new 900-unit project will go ahead, the university spokesman said today.
Waipārūrū Hall was named for the freshwater stream that runs through the property.
Te Tirohanga opened for the beginning of the first semester this year. Its kupu means the view of Tōangaroa, now Mechanics Bay.
This month, the Herald reported the Government announced a deal it hopes will create a cohort of foreign students who will be ready to enter New Zealand when the borders open.
The arrangement organised by Education New Zealand and the country's eight universities would see the universities recognise pre-university courses offered by the company NCUK, which was owned by British universities and had study centres in more than 30 countries.
They would also recognise NCUK courses that provided the first year of a Bachelor's degree in business and engineering and a course that prepared students to study a master's degree.
Today, Savills released a new report saying despite challenging operating conditions, the Australian student accommodation market is set to record over A$3b in transaction volumes this year.
That country has 109,000 beds for student accommodation, Savills found.