Crowded house: accommodation precarity and self-reported academic performance of international students

Taylor & Francis
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Compare, 2023, ahead-of-print, (ahead-of-print), pp. 1-20
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This article draws on two surveys of international students in Sydney and Melbourne, undertaken in 2019 and during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns. Using the concept of bounded agency, we identify how the challenges of living in one of the world’s most expensive rental housing markets impact students’ perceptions of their academic attainment. We find housing insecurity, unaffordability and condition, amplified by financial stress, contribute significantly to student anxiety about their studies. These relationships differ by student background and education. We argue students’ agency to meet their educational ambitions in Australia is constrained by the cost of housing and the housing choices they consequently make to mitigate financial stress. Our findings suggest the importance of ‘town’ or non-institutional aspects of the international student experience on their satisfaction and academic outcomes. We call for further research to explore these relationships in other global contexts.
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