With UBC Okanagan’s enrolment numbers set to surpass 10,000 students by September, the university has unveiled plans to build two new student residences adding 440 new beds to its campus housing inventory.
UBCO currently has space for 1,680 students to live on campus which allows it to meet its guarantee to provide student housing to every first-year student. But according to associate vice president, finance and operations Rob Einarson, as the campus community continues to grow, new investment in student accommodation is needed.
“The space we currently have allows us to meet the demand from our first-year students,” said Einarson. “Ultimately, we’d like to be in a position of being able to offer on-campus housing to about 25 per cent of our student population, which is a very high benchmark when compared to other Canadian universities.”
“Residences offer an opportunity for connections into a community of peers and other supports that we know improves student success and their experience of student life on campus.”
While it may seem like that leaves 75 per cent of students without housing, Shannon Dunn, director of business operations, says the demand for on-campus housing is offset by the fact that about 25 per cent of students come from the region and many others decide to live in other parts of the city.
“Local students often prefer to live at home to save on rent. Students coming from outside the region often band together after their residence experience and transition to more independent living by renting an apartment downtown, closer to more amenities,” she said.
The investment of $70 million that was recently approved by UBC’s Board of Governors for two residence buildings that have already been named the Skeena and Nechako Residences.
“With funding now in place, I expect to see shovels in the ground very shortly and the projects are targeted to- be completed by fall 2021,” said Einarson.
This isn’t the first time UBC’s Okanagan campus has seen this kind of growth in its residences. When the campus opened in 2005, 340 beds were available for its 3,500 students and just six years later, it had built additional residences providing 1,440 beds. Now that the student population has bloomed to nearly 10,000, the Nechako and Skeena residences will boost the number of available beds by 28 per cent, with each building housing 220 students.
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