New on-campus accommodation village a boost for tertiary sector.
A new self-contained apartment complex at the University of Auckland is expected to save students up to $4.4 million in accommodation costs.
The $410 million US-inspired complex, which can house up to 1600 residents, creates a new model in student accommodation and is seen not only as an important strategic step in retaining domestic students but as a way of helping attract international students whose proportional numbers declined as a result the Covid-19 pandemic.
University of Auckland research suggests the model, which incorporates apartment rental, utilities, internet and gym membership into one fixed cost, is around 17 per cent cheaper for students than living in a private flat off-campus.
Students can budget on a fixed weekly cost of $300 and the analysis shows the aggregated annual savings across the 907 students housed in the latest and largest of the (complex’s) three buildings alone will equate to $4.4 million.
Developers say the complex - New Zealand’s largest student accommodation facility - is set to boost the infrastructure of the tertiary education sector and is designed to create a model which can be deployed throughout the country to address a shortage of self-contained apartments in tertiary institutions.
It is also a key development as the global market for tertiary education is re-established post-Covid. According to government data, international students generated at least $1.25 billion a year for New Zealand prior to Covid, and universities’ overseas earnings from education represented 1.2 per cent of the country’s exports.
The University of Auckland is New Zealand’s largest tertiary institution and latest data shows the proportion of international students has declined as a result of the pandemic.
Known as Carlaw Park Student Village, the complex has been built on the former Carlaw Park stadium grounds and was first conceived 20 years ago.
It has 416 three-to-six-bedroom apartments and can accommodate over 1600 residents. The opening of the $250 million 10-storey 28,000 sqm third-stage building on Stanley Street has added 907 rooms.
In addition to the third stage building, the village extends the university’s campus by 52,000 sqm.
The facility was inspired by US college accommodation and is built around a large central courtyard which can accommodate recreational activities ranging from volleyball to BBQs.
Extensive consultation with students has also seen the incorporation of new design elements including cinema rooms, gaming areas, retail, communal kitchens, music rooms, e-bike storage, study and artistic spaces. Acoustic soundproofing is designed to create an urban oasis, despite being in close proximity to a motorway entrance.
Adrienne Cleland, deputy vice-chancellor and registrar at the university, says the self-contained apartment model is common in tertiary institutions overseas, particularly USA, UK and Australia. In New Zealand, a higher proportion of traditional student halls of residences are more common.
She says there is significant local demand for on-campus accommodation and the university had 8500 applications last year for around 4500 beds available in their facilities.
“In New Zealand, students living on campus will typically go into a catered hall-style accommodation in their first year,” she says. “After that, they tend to migrate to private flatting as often the local infrastructure is not sufficient to support the higher volume of students needing accommodation during the term.
“The self-contained model means all students are on an equal footing, which mitigates many of the disputes which can manifest in flatting situations where one tenant holds the lease. It also means their living space is fully furnished and they have none of the challenges associated with sourcing beds, furniture or whiteware.
“The development of this new accommodation facility is designed to provide students with a world standard education experience, which in turn helps to develop our international reputation and to ensure we remain competitive in the global market,” Cleland says.
The addition of 907 rooms brings the university closer to its target of 7500 beds which will allow them to house around 16 per cent of its current student population and helps improve access to tertiary education for the domestic market as well.
Watch the Carlaw Park Student Village video here:
Greg Reidy, director of Reidy & Co the co-developers of Carlaw Park Student Village - along with construction firm Haydn & Rollett - says changing market dynamics in the real estate industry have exacerbated a shortage of student flats near Auckland’s CBD.
He says the new model used in the village also provides additional accommodation capacity in the city centre for sporting events and conferences during peak summer season as 50 per cent of residents vacate their apartments during this time. The revenue can be used to subsidise the cost for students.
“A number of the older houses in Mt Eden, Parnell and Grafton suburbs have been sold to owner-occupiers who have renovated them to become their family home,” Reidy says. “As a result, it has become increasingly hard in recent years to get a student flat close to the university.
“This new development is designed to address the undersupply of good quality student flats within walking distance of the university and we believe the project has achieved this objective at a standard beyond anything built to date.”
Kim Barrett, director of Ergon Properties which owns the buildings, says tertiary institutions can face a number of barriers to expanding their campus infrastructure.
“While we know that high-quality accommodation infrastructure is essential to attracting students, often campuses are based in the centre of a city which means the university is competing with other motivated parties for a small number of suitable commercial sites.
“We have developed a model which helps these institutions secure a long-term lease on the building which becomes part of their property pool - without the upfront capital investment usually needed,” he says. “We are looking to expand the accommodation model throughout New Zealand and are in conversations with other tertiary institutions.”
Cleland says in addition to long-term leases, including on the Carlaw Park accommodation buildings, the university has invested around $300 million on capital infrastructure over the past decade.
She says residents in the village will also have free access to a new six-storey 21,600 sqm university recreation and wellness centre which will be completed in 2024.