While most homestay accommodation providers for international students offer high-quality service, of course there will always be a certain number that are not. In addition, more and more Australians are relying on the income from renting out their spare bedroom as the cost of living increases. This will open up the sector to further complaints.
For many years, the international education sector has been calling for tighter regulation of homestay accommodation. At a time when there is a national housing crisis, increasing demand for homestay accommodation heightens the need.
There are stories of multiple students living in in one room, extremely rundown accommodation facilities, and/or and being taken advantage of financially. These young people generally do not know their rights, and they often feel like they have no other option.
According to David Bycroft, Founder of the Australian Homestay Network (AHN):
“The Australian Homestay Network has been advocating for
industry-wide homestay standards since we began in 2007.
Issues of students experiencing overcrowding, exploitation and being
ripped off by unscrupulous individuals were apparent back then and
with today’s lack of housing, students are just as vulnerable."
The new standards will be managed by the National English Language Teaching Accreditation Scheme (NEAS). This is a logical connection as the majority of students who use homestay accommodation are studying in the English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) sector.
According to the Australian Homestay Network (AHN), one of the largest and most reputable homestay organisations in the country, 80,000 students have been placed in homestays across Australia since 2008. Based on their 2023 pricing for students over the age of 18, the average cost is $360/week for a private room + 3 three meals a day. Without meals, this drops to $268/week.
The announcement of the new standards was made at the Australian International Education Conference (AEIC), which is being held in Adelaide this week. No date for implementation has been released.
The Australian government recently launched a tip offline for internationals students to report vocational colleges that are acting in an ethical or illegal way.