Homestay and housing for international students: What can schools do?

Australia’s international education industry has shrunk. Standing at $37.6 billion before the pandemic in 2018-19 (where 2.7 per cent of this belonged to school enrolments in 2019), it then slid to $26.7 billion two years later.

It was welcome news, therefore, when the Australian Bureau Statistics revealed that about 59,000 international students arrived down under in January this year, up from 36,000 in December 2022.

Nearly 5,000 of the January arrivals belonged to the school sector – a jump from 1,300 in the same period last year.

To welcome our international students, making sure that every child is cared for is crucial, especially when the limited housing for international students in Australia have become a concern.

Australian Homestay Network (AHN) has been working with agents, education providers and industry bodies to rapidly grow the host pool to ensure there is enough quality accommodation to meet the student demand anticipated for 2023, according to company chief executive Julie Manche.

She says: ‘The experience of sending a child overseas to study can be daunting. Safety, support and knowing their child is cared for are key concerns for parents.

‘[Given the situation,] homestay is seen as a more immediate solution in many areas where other accommodation types are sold out.’

Benefits of homestay

While the education provider maintains responsibility for the student’s welfare — and must ensure all arrangements meet the requirements of the National Code — there are many benefits for students who stay in a homestay.

They include:

International students’ support

To welcome students into the community, schools can leverage off their established connections and build networks (more on that below), while encouraging them to register as homestay hosts.

The approved homestay host will:

Manche believes that this way, high-quality homestay organisations and boarding schools can play a key role in offering international student accommodation and services that respond to parents’ needs for safety, support and assurance.

Creating positive international student experience

A positive study abroad experience is key to retaining your students. To do this, leverage the power of networking:

In conclusion, providing homestay and housing options for international students is a crucial aspect of their overall study abroad experience. Schools can play a significant role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their students by partnering with reputable homestay providers, establishing clear guidelines for homestay arrangements and offering additional support services as needed. By prioritising the needs of international students, schools can create a more welcoming and inclusive learning environment for all.