University students are returning to Ottawa's campuses in big numbers this long weekend, and the wait list for spots in residences is unusually long at one campus this year.

Carleton University's director of housing, David Sterritt, said about 480 students are on the waiting list for on-campus housing. That's about 200 more names on it than last year at the same time, he said.

"It's pretty typical that we would have a waiting list at the beginning of the summer period in range of 400 to 500 names. This year was higher," Sterritt said.

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Christian Edwards, a student at Carleton, will be staying with a host family until he can find a permanent place to stay. (CBC)

Sterritt said students coming to university straight out of secondary schools are guaranteed places in residence, but others are not.

Christian Edwards, a 20-year-old architecture student from Australia, will be studying at Carleton for four months.

He's staying with a host family until he can find a place to stay. He's currently on the waiting list.

"Seven people have to drop out for me to get in, so my chances aren't good," he said. "Seven people that have already paid and already have clean rooms and are ready to go. So I probably won't get it, which sucks."

Edwards said it's also difficult for him to sign a four-month lease because most landlords want eight-month leases.

"I'm devastated," he said. "I've been on the wait list for months."

Carleton's Sterritt said healthy waiting lists prompt the university to start looking into building new residences. He said he's confident there will be another residence at Carleton by 2016.