The University of Guelph has completed its Housing Demand Study, and based on the study’s results, the University is able to maintain its current residence accommodations, which include consistently accommodating all first-year student requests and providing guaranteed spaces for incoming international and domestic out-of-province students.

As a result, U of G can now expand residence space guarantees for the vast majority of international students beginning their studies in fall 2024 to include the duration of their academic endeavors at U of G. This expansion recognizes the importance of providing enhanced wraparound supports to international students.

Housing Demand Study supports U of G’s Student Housing Strategy

Conducted by the SCION Group, one of North America’s leading owners, operators and advisors on student housing, the Housing Demand Study involved a comprehensive evaluation of the available student housing on and around campus as well as extensive consultation with domestic and international undergraduate and graduate students to better understand current and future housing needs.

Key areas of focus of the Housing Demand Study included support for accommodating first-year and international student requests for residence spaces; support for upper-year students in accessing housing that meets their needs; and determining if existing and planned purpose-built student housing aligns with student demand.

The Housing Demand Study represents the culmination of the first phase of U of G’s Student Housing Strategy launched in 2022 in recognition of the shortage of affordable housing, including rental properties, in cities across Canada.

“Our Student Housing Strategy is an integral part of U of G’s commitment to support students in accessing housing both on campus and within the broader community,” says Sharmilla Rasheed, vice-president (finance & operations). “We’re excited to be moving forward with new insights from the study that will help inform future decisions around housing.”

Accommodating first year and international students

The University offers on campus housing to 20 per cent of the total student population by consistently accommodating first-years’ requests to live in residences. This is nearly double the average offering of Canadian universities and nearly six times that of Canadian colleges.

The study found the University can continue to consistently accommodate all first-year student requests, while also expanding offers for international students to live in residence for the duration of their academic programs. This includes international undergraduate and master students while PhD students will be accommodated for the first year of their studies.

Supporting upper-year students in accessing housing

As part of the study, nearly 2,200 undergraduate and 500 graduate students were surveyed about their housing needs. The survey found student demand for on-campus housing drops after first year and when accessing housing in the community, undergraduates and graduates listed affordability followed by proximity to campus as the two most important factors.

For students with dependents, the study found the University’s current family housing facilities are affordable, however these facilities will require renovations and systems replacements within the next decade.

Assessment of purpose-built student housing

Assessments of existing and planned purpose-built student housing in Guelph showed existing purpose-built student housing facilities in the city are currently limited to a few locations and are mostly at the higher end of the price range, which is not aligned with student needs. The median housing cost per person ranges from $901 for a room in a three-bedroom house to $2,139 for a one-bedroom apartment, according to the study.

While there are properties going through the permit approval process now that could add nearly 2,500 student beds in the next few years, the study indicates it will be important to ensure these builds meet student needs in terms of affordability.

“We will continue to focus on collaborations with our municipal and community partners to support the expansion of housing in the city for upper-year students and to find opportunities to ensure future builds will meet students’ needs,” says Ed Townsley, associate vice-president, ancillary.  

Study will inform the University’s future housing plans

In terms of replacing or expanding student housing on campus and University-owned lands, the University will be considering the Housing Demand Study along with the Real Estate Strategy and Campus Master Plan, which are both in development, to guide future decisions.

“We recognize that affordable student housing is essential to student success, and we will continue to take a comprehensive and data-informed approach to supporting our students in accessing housing,” says Rasheed.