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Over 1,200 students on residence waiting list at U of G for this fall

Roughly 1,000 are unlikely to get a spot in residence they hoped for

With a lengthy wait list for residence at the University of Guelph this year, about 1,000 students likely won't get the chance to live on-campus.

Residence spots were able to increase from about 4,800 to 5,050. The university has added more beds to residence and is utilizing Gordon Hall, the former Days Inn as a residence.

There are 1,250 students on the waiting list. The list will change based on cancellations, deferrals and more spots will open up. About 150-200 students are expected to be moved off the wait list and into residence.

Last year the university was able to offer spots to all students who applied for residence. There were 4,700 to 4,800 spots available and 4,462 students applied.

Mike Lau’s son was accepted to the university in April. He took a tour of the campus with his son and was impressed until the tour guide described what happened with residence spots in the past. 

“And all we heard was that they were sure that they would have no problems in housing all the first years. They had problems in the past, but all that's been rectified. There was a point where they said it got so bad that they had to rent out a hotel that was nearby,” said Lau.

In 2022, the U of G received 5,150 residence applications and had 4,700 spots available. It was able to accommodate 4,834 students, student staff, leaders and exchange students in residence. The university was able to accommodate more students because it used the former Gordon Hall at 785 Gordon St. as a student residence.

“Students are wanting to come to the University of Guelph, and we're pleased to see that,” said Gwen Chapman, provost and vice-president academic.

It means this year demand has exceeded supply, she said.

“The University of Guelph still accommodates a higher proportion of our students in residence than any other Ontario university, and certainly more than colleges. So about 20 per cent of our students can be accommodated on campus,” said Chapman.

The U of G doesn’t guarantee first-year students living in Ontario a spot in residence. The university guarantees all international students a spot in residence for the entirety of their academic career apart from PhD candidates who are not in their first-year of their program.

The university also guarantees residence to students living outside of Ontario. 

Roughly 38,000 students applied to U of G to start their studies come fall. About 7,000 students were accepted. 

Hearing about the problems with residence in the past concerned Lau. When he asked if something like that could happen again the guide told him everything would be fine and there is a process now. The guide didn’t provide any details about the process.

The day after he made a deposit for residence his son received an email notifying him he was on a wait list. 

Lau did his due diligence to get informed on the residence process through emails, calls, and the student housing chat online. His biggest frustration is the lack of clarity and communication from the university. He’s talked with other parents in the same situation and it seems like everyone is getting different information.

If his son isn’t moved off the wait list he’ll have to resort to finding off-campus housing. Lau has started looking but it’s expensive. ”And it's a scramble, because there's so little,” he said. His son lives in Richmond Hill and wouldn’t be able to commute to the U of G.

The average rent price for a one bedroom apartment in September 2023 was $2,036 and $2,476 for a two bedroom apartment according to

The worst case scenario would be for his son to defer a year, Lau said.

Sandy Khan’s daughter took a gap year and is planning to start her first year at U of G come September. 

Khan is aware the U of G doesn’t guarantee residence to all first-year students but thought her daughter’s odds were good to get a spot. She was wait-listed.

If she doesn’t move off the wait list it’s going to be a scramble to find off-campus housing. If she can’t find a place to rent she might have to defer her studies. She lives in Peterborough so commuting to school wouldn’t be an option.

First-year students who are transitioning from Grade 12 have a higher workload and are new to independent living, said Khan. Students who live in residence typically have a meal plan, meet new people and have support from resident assistants. This is why Khan thinks residence is appealing for first-year students. 

“So for them to not be prioritized relative to some of the other people they prioritize. That I think needs a conversation,” said Khan.

Her frustration is the lack of transparency from the university. She wants to know where her daughter is on the wait list and whether she should wait out the wait list or begin looking for off-campus housing as soon as possible.

Students on the wait list started to find out where they were on Monday. Lau's son was 852.

On the U of G website it reads “demand for residence has exceeded our supply of available spaces and we will be using a residence wait list to make additional offers through the summer and fall semester.” It indicated students can see their number on the waiting list through the student housing portal online.

The university started communicating with incoming students in April and said if it looked like residence was going to be at capacity it would introduce a lottery system. 

“We'd had feedback from students in the past and parents who said they needed a greater clarity prior to even accepting their offer, whether they were in residence or not,” said Chapman.

Two years ago the university prioritized students who lived further away from Guelph than those who lived closer to campus. This year it’s not differentiating priority based on where students live in Ontario because people explained how important residence is to making their decision, said Chapman.

The university is looking into creating more housing on-campus and is working to develop some of the university’s land for housing, said Chapman. She expects there will be announcements about this in the fall.


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Santana Bellantoni

About the Author: Santana Bellantoni

Santana Bellantoni was born and raised in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. As a general assignment reporter for Guelph Today she is looking to discover the communities, citizens and quirks that make Guelph a vibrant city.
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