More incoming students are choosing residence life, swayed by affordable accommodation and a better academic experience
Andrew Parr, managing director of Student Housing and Hospitality Services, oversees student residences on UBC’s Vancouver campus. Having helped house thousands of students over the past decade, he understands the need for affordable housing in Vancouver.
How many students will live in student residence this academic year?
UBC’s Vancouver campus has over 9,400 residence spaces for students – more than any other university in Canada. A record number of first-year students–4,000– will live in residence. We guarantee on-campus residence for first-year students, and more are choosing this option every year. The remaining 5,400 spaces will be taken by other new and returning undergraduate, graduate students and students with families.
Why is demand for student residence increasing?
More first-year students take advantage of the opportunity to live in residence. The reasons are simple: students who live in residence report better academic and social experiences than those who live off campus. And these are the most important things to first-year students. When you live in residence, you are more connected with the university and your peers.
Another major factor is Vancouver’s rental market. Demand is outpacing supply, which has resulted in higher prices, lower availability and longer commutes for students who live off campus. Most students would rather walk 15 minutes to class than take the bus. On top of that, UBC provides a range of high quality spaces. Many of our residences are new or have been recently renovated. These are nice rooms and suites available to students at or below market costs.
How does the cost of living on campus compare to living off campus?
The average apartment-style residence at UBC with a kitchen, bathroom, and shared living area costs $788 monthly, which includes utilities–Internet, cable, heat, and electricity. The average commuter student pays $800 to $900 for a comparable single or shared living arrangement, if you factor in utilities. Many of these students still have to brave the B-Line for 40 minutes each way. If you compare campus residence costs with other Canadian universities, we are currently in the middle of the pack, in line with other B.C. universities and considerably below Ontario schools, which are much more expensive.
Do students tend to move off campus after first-year?
We’re seeing a generational shift for UBC students. Surveys tell us that 73 per cent of first-years in residence say they want to continue next year, and 60 per cent say they want to spend their entire university career in residence. That is a significant new trend.
With demand so high, how is UBC responding?
UBC already provides housing to more students than any other Canadian university. We added 600 spots last year, and have another 555 spaces opening next year and another 1,050 spots in 2016. Beyond that, we have a tentative growth plan to add up to 4,000 additional beds between 2017 and 2023.
What does UBC do to help students find housing off campus?
The AMS offers the AMS Rentsline, an online database, to help students find rental accommodation. Student Housing and Hospitality Services offers online educational resources to students beginning their search for other on-campus or off-campus rental accommodation. You can find it here.