Ontario's double cohort strains resources

Elimination of Grade 13 in Ontario has put 10,000 additional students into post-secondary schools

Thousands of post-secondary students across Canada are on the move this weekend, setting up in dormitories and rental accommodations that were a lot more difficult than usual to find.

They've enrolled in universities and colleges in greater numbers because of the so-called double cohort in Ontario.

The province dropped Grade 13, meaning graduates from both 12 and 13 are entering post-secondary schools this fall.

The double cohort has dumped about 10,000 additional students into the post-secondary system nationwide.

Some schools are helping to ease the housing crunch. Ottawa's Carleton University opened a new $19-million residence called Prescott House, which will house 400 students.

The university is accepting 5,400 first-year students, compared to 4,650 last year.

The University of Toronto purchased the 27-storey Colony Hotel just north of City Hall in early 2003 and it has been renovated to provide housing for 1,100 students.

Dalhousie University in Halifax prepared for about 1,000 more students this year, boosting its total to more than 16,000.

"We have about 250 more (dormitory) spaces this year than last year," said Eric McKee of Dalhousie's Student Services. "We did that by increasing the percentage available to first year, creating double rooms out of singles and so forth."

But there's still a shortage. It's the same story at the student housing office at Montreal's Concordia University.

"We ask them to consider perhaps moving in with people who already have apartments and need roommates," said Christina Xydous of Concordia's Housing Office.

Holland College in Charlottetown has added another 77 spots in residence by buying a hotel, the Islander Motor Lodge.

"We've been pushing, shoving and scratching to get accommodations for students," said Dick MacDonald of the school's student services.