International students struggling in the private rental sector in Australia prior to and during the pandemic

Alan Morris*, Shaun Wilson, Emma Mitchell, Gaby Ramia, Catherine Hastings

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


International students have emerged as a major cohort within Australia’s post-secondary education sector. Despite contributing substantially to the economy and community, they are expected to make their own way in Australia’s expensive private rental market. Drawing on two surveys—one conducted prior to Covid-19 and one fielded during the pandemic—as well as forty semi-structured in-depth interviews, the article examines strategies adopted by students to cope with high rents in Sydney and Melbourne. Drawing on the concept of risk, we argue that international students studying in these two cities must constantly manage the pressures of expensive and unstable rental housing. Access to decent accommodation often depends on finding and maintaining paid employment. Second, students adopt risky strategies to meet housing costs such as sharing bedrooms. These strategies reduce rents but invoke further challenges. Third, we find that due to the loss of paid employment, the Covid-19 pandemic has substantially increased the risks for international students dependent on the private rental sector.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalHousing Studies
Early online date12 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Aug 2021


  • Australia
  • Covid-19 pandemic
  • International students
  • precarity
  • private rental sector
  • risk


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