First-year students are waiting and worrying about being approved for residency at the University of Guelph
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First-year students are waiting and worrying about being approved for residency at the University of Guelph

Last week, many incoming first-year University of Guelph students were told they would not be guaranteed a place in college next fall.

Students say the uncertainty has caused anxiety, and parents are left feeling frustrated by the lack of answers. The biggest complaint, they told CTV News, was the length of the waiting list.

On Monday, the situation became a little clearer.

The students said they received an email informing them that there were 1,356 people on the waiting list to stay at the center. However, no further details have been provided on what this means for students, specifically whether it means the number of people waiting for another candidate to decline an offer to rent a room.

2022

This isn’t the first year that housing has been an issue at the University of Guelph.

In early 2022, the school reported that it would not be able to find housing for all first-year students. More than 5,000 students were welcomed to campus this fall, the largest number in the school’s history.

To accommodate the increase, the university turned double rooms into triple rooms, single rooms into double rooms and converted living rooms. In total, the school said it had created about 400 additional places for students.

In September of that year, the city council considered a proposal to demolish the nearby Days Inn to make room for a new dormitory. The 10-story project at 785 Gordon Street would include 389 student apartments. Councilors ultimately voted 11-1 against the development, agreeing with a staff report that found the proposal was not consistent with the city’s official plan.

The Day’s Inn Guelph facility will be temporarily used as a residence hall for University of Guelph students. (Adam Marsh/CTV News)

2023

In June 2023, the University of Guelph received the green light to use the Days Inn as a temporary student residence for the next three years. These beds will accommodate an additional 160 students.

The approval came weeks after the university announced it had successfully processed all first-year residency applications. At the time, the school reported enrolling a total of 4,462 students.

2024

In March 2024, the University of Guelph released the results of its housing demand study. They said they were able to accommodate all requests from first-year students and guarantee places to international and domestic students.

The study was conducted by SCION Group, one of the leading student housing operators in North America, which examined both on- and off-campus housing near the university. This was also part of the school’s wider student housing strategy.

At the time, the University of Guelph said it provided on-campus housing to 20 per cent of its total student population.

The study also showed that the school would be able to accommodate all requests from first-year students while expanding its residency offerings to first-year international students, master’s students and PhD students.

The University of Guelph reported in March that several other properties were undergoing the permit approval process. If approved, the project could add nearly 2,500 student beds over the next few years.

“Stay not guaranteed”

The University of Guelph also shared its process for deciding whether to grant a room.

“Using a randomly generated number, we will continue to send students confirmation of residence until the June 3 deadline. There is no guarantee of placement,” the school told CTV News. “This year, we started communicating with applicants in April to let them know as soon as possible whether they had received confirmation of their place to stay.”

Families who contacted CTV News disagree with the school’s claims. They said they didn’t realize they could only get a place in a residence hall after the June 3 deadline to accept the school’s offer. At this point, they add, it is too late to change plans and transfer to another school.

“Residence staff began contacting students/families (Monday) if they do not have a confirmed residence; All of these emails are expected to be sent by (Tuesday),” the university told CTV News.

They also agreed to an interview with CTV News on Tuesday.