International students pressure housing markets


Australia is currently experiencing an unprecedented boom in international student arrivals.

As noted in The Age this week, a record 577,295 student visas have been granted in the last year:

Student Visas granted

Source: The Age

Visa data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that this surge in international student arrivals is driving Australia’s record net overseas migration which, in turn, is behind the severe tightening of Australia’s rental markets:

Net visa arrivals

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) last month released research showing that international students were taking all new housing supply across some capital city markets.

“Australia is in the midst of a housing crisis: a crisis that has been exacerbated by the unprecedented flow of migrants through Australia’s borders”, the report noted.


“Approximately two-thirds of the 400,000 net new migrants in the financial year ending 2023 have arrived in Australia on a student visa. Almost two thirds of the subsequent year’s net migration intake will be made up of international students”.

“This IPA research report studies the impact that the current international student intake has and will continue to have on Australia’s housing shortage”.

“The consequences of the unprecedented inflow of international students are not just felt by Australians but also the students themselves, whose educational experience suffers from the housing shortage”.

Similar forces are in play in Canada, which is experiencing an even bigger boom in international students and immigration, and an equally vicious housing crisis.

In 2021, Canada loosened eligibility requirements for international students to gain permanent residency.

Canada last year also uncapped the number of hours that international students can work in a bid to make Canada a more attractive destination.


In turn, student numbers have exploded:

Canada student numbers

As has Canada’s population growth, which surged by 1.2 million people in the year to March, with net overseas migration accounting for nearly all (98%) of that increase:

Canada population growth

In addition to delivering severe housing shortages, Canada’s immigration surge has driven the nation’s unemployment rate higher as labour supply is growing too fast for demand:

Canadian unemployment

Now the Canadian Trudeau Government is seeking to undo the disaster by capping international student numbers:


“A massive increase in international students coming to Canada in recent years is putting pressure on the property market and a cap on visas may be needed, Housing Minister Sean Fraser said”.

“Fraser, who was previously Canada’s immigration minister, was named to the housing portfolio by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a cabinet shuffle last month”.

“Fraser said the government needs to do some “serious thinking” about the issue of international student visas, noting that currently the system is driven entirely by demand, not a set target”.

“The reality is we’ve got temporary immigration programs that were never designed to see such explosive growth in such a short period of time,” Fraser said.

Hilariously, the same idiot who drove student numbers and immigration to unprecedented levels as Immigration Minister is now seeking a U-turn as Housing Minister. You cannot make this stuff up.

Ben Rabidoux summarised the situation nicely on Twitter:

Ben Rabidoux Tweet

His next chart says it all:

Non-permanent resident migration

Source: Ben Rabidoux

Why do centre-left administrations like the Trudeau and Albanese governments hate the working class so much that they deprive them of homes and jobs by running open borders immigration policies?

Expect similar outcomes in Australia given the Albanese Government has just opened the door wider by signing migration agreements with India that grants automatic five-year student visas and eight-year post-study work visas.

Albo’s Labor has also given international students an easier path to permanent residency by abolishing the Genuine Student Test on visa applications.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.