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Benefits of students in Darwin CBD

Published: 20/09/2017

Benefits of students in Darwin CBD

20 Sep 2017
Property Council of Australia


The Property Council of Australia NT Division has launched its first Research Report; “Benefits of increased employment and Tertiary Students in the Darwin CBD.”

This research was undertaken to show that by increasing the population in a CBD we can improve the economic and social environments while also creating jobs and activation.

University student enrolments in Tertiary courses have seen double digit growth per annum in the last decade.

Those students predominantly come from Asian nations such as Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea and China where highly urbanised environments are the norm.

Whilst a suburban university catering for our local population was originally a viable option, it no longer suits the needs of what students want.

International students need close interaction with public transport nodes, activity and employment.

It is likely that the demand for higher education in Darwin will continue to grow, mostly due to Charles Darwin University’s strategic focus on international markets, and Asian markets such as regional China. This is likely to result in a continued increase in international students in Darwin over the short term. Similarly, the number of domestic students is also forecast to continue growing, though at a relatively slower rate. *

With an increased university presence and student footprint, there is the prospect for a great economic multiplier across Darwin CBD businesses.

In Newcastle, during the expansion of the university facilities in their CBD, property development approvals increased 296% in the 2-years to 2015-16.

There was also a significant reduction in commercial and retail vacancy rates during the same period.

The City of Launceston is about to see over $150 million spent on university facilities in their CBD. They are expecting an additional 12,000 students and over 3000 jobs as a result of this investment.

Both Newcastle and Launceston endured slowing economies and a growth in unemployment due to a reduction in industry and manufacturing in past years.

Both cities have also sought to address the issue of a slow economy through activating the CBD area, trying to make higher education more visible, more engaging and more attractive to the local community and businesses in the CBD.

The report outlines 5 preparatory steps that education services need to undertake to reactivate the Darwin CBD.


1. Strategic and robust delivery of a survey to find out what students want from teaching facilities and purpose-built accommodation.

2. Development of a strategy and plan for the education infrastructure including consideration of the enabling infrastructure required to make it work.

3. Development of a risk assessment framework in which to evaluate options put forward.

4. Delivery of extensive stakeholder consultation as part of a phased approach wherein stakeholders are consulted about the options for development; the decision regarding which option to fund and in testing the acceptability and success of delivering the development.

5. Leveraging off existing relationships that CDU has should broaden exposure of the local education market to national and international education providers and thereby continuing expanding the existing market.

These steps are critical for properly testing the appropriateness of any approach to using education facilities to drive economic growth.

Other elements stakeholders indicated were important for achieving optimal benefits from providing education facilities in the Darwin CBD included;

• Programmed event planning to support a sustained activation of the CBD.

• Investment from all levels of government as well as education providers. This could be achieved through making a strategic case to the Commonwealth Government for financial input via a “City Deals” partnership.

• Improving the quality, access, relevance and appropriateness of education needs to be the key focus and motivation for the development, that is, providing education appropriate to Darwin and its surroundings.

• Consideration of locating VET courses and more occupationally-orientated courses as well as higher education courses in the CBD.

• Student accommodation needs to be safe and purpose built for encouraging independence as well as socialisation. It is particularly important that the facilities are culturally appropriate for international students.

We know that the Northern Territory Government is looking to accommodate more students into the Darwin CBD, this reports simply outlines the benefits and reasons as to why this should happen through extensive research, consultations and case studies.

There is an article on Page 3 of today’s NT News which reads;

Report touts benefits of moving university to CBD

RELOCATING university students to Darwin CBD would have a major economic impact, a new report has found.

The Property Council of Australia NT Division commissioned "Benefits of increased employment and Tertiary Students in the Darwin CBD" has found similar moves in Newcastle, New South Wales, and Launceston in Tasmania were creating an "economic multiplier." The report was undertaken by KPMG.

Property Council of Australia Northern Territory executive director Ruth Palmer said more research had to be undertaken but the case studies of Newcastle and Launceston provided a source of enthusiasm.

"In Newcastle, during the expansion of the university facilities in their CBD, property development approvals increased 296 per cent in the two years to 2015-16," she said.

"There was also a significant reduction in commercial and retail vacancy rates during the same period.

"The City of Launceston is about to see over $150 million spent on university facilities in their CBD. They are expecting an additional 12,000 students and over 3000 jobs as a result of this investment. Both Newcastle and Launceston endured slowing economies and a growth in unemployment due to a reduction in industry and manufacturing in past years.

"Both cities have also sought to address the issue of a slow economy through activating the CBD area, trying to make higher education more visible, more engaging and more attractive to the local community and businesses in the CBD." She said the changes also reflected what students themselves wanted "University student enrolments in tertiary courses have seen double-digit growth per annum in the last decade," she said.

"Those students predominantly come from Asian nations such as Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea and China where highly urbanised environments are the norm.

"International students need close interaction with public transport nodes, activity and employment." Vacancy rates in the Darwin CBD are as high as 22.5 per cent or the equivalent of 50,000sq m.

The report outlines five preparatory steps that education services need to undertake to reactivate the Darwin CBD including accommodation.

The NT News also referenced our report in their editorial piece

Click here to view the opinion piece

If you would like to discuss further any of the details in the report, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Cheers,
Ruth Palmer
Executive Director

 

*Benefits of increased employment and Tertiary students in the Darwin CBD Section 2.2.3 Page 11.

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