British Columbia

Some UBC students could be hard-pressed to find on-campus housing

Nearly 6,000 UBC students are still awaiting spots for on-campus housing. Many will have to find alternatives in the next couple of weeks.

Some students could be forced into Vancouver's competitive rental market

UBC will have 1,048 brand new beds opening this fall for on-campus student accommodation, according to the school's director of student housing. There are nearly 6,000 students waiting for housing this September. (Christer Waara/CBC)

For some UBC students, the dream of decorating their first college dorm room this fall could be replaced by the nightmare of trying to find affordable housing in Metro Vancouver's competitive rental market. 

Nearly 6,000 students are on a waiting list for on-campus housing. With classes beginning in just over two weeks, many will have to seek alternatives off-campus.

The university has set aside $450 million to invest in housing options for students between 2015 and 2020, according to Andrew Parr, the university's managing director of student housing and hospitality services. 

Parr told host Gloria Mackarenko of CBC's On The Coast that 1,048 beds are "brand new and opening this fall.

"The campus plan has actually set aside land on the campus to build up to 16,500 beds, so we are in the midst of making that development happen," he said.

UBC says 12,500 of those beds are planned to be in place by 2020.

Long waiting list

Parr explained the waiting list is long because many students want to enhance their overall university and student experience by living on campus.

Parr said rents for on-campus housing are affordable when compared with Vancouver's rental market and campuses in other Canadian cities.

"We do look at our rents that we charge on campus against the neighbourhoods in Vancouver," said Parr, who noted campus rents are at — or below — market prices.

Despite Vancouver's expensive housing market, UBC housing prices are the eighth highest nationally when compared with other major universities, according to Parr.

In past years, Parr remembered students living on sailboats and in vehicles to cut housing costs.

He wants students who are considering similar alternatives this September to reach out to the university for support to ensure they are sleeping in safe locations. 

With files from On The Coast.

To hear the full audio, click on the link labelled Student housing shortage at UBC campus.


  • An earlier version of this story reported UBC planned to have 16,500 new beds in place by 2020. UBC says they actually plan to have 12,500 new beds by 2020.
    Aug 23, 2016 10:14 AM PT