Task Force on Student Housing
PDAD&C #32, 2002-2003
M E M O R A N D U M
|TO:||Principals, Deans, Academic Directors and Chairs|
|FROM:||Shirley Neuman, Vice-President and Provost|
|DATE:||January 6, 2003|
|RE:||Task Force on Student Housing|
The University of Toronto is committed to the belief that the academic environment and the student experience are improved when students live on or near campus as members of the university community. Although the elements of student housing vary among the three campuses and among the Federated Universities, some combination of residence for both undergraduate and graduate students, family housing, and off-campus housing is a well-established feature of the University of Toronto landscape, and an integral part of college and university life. The University is committed to the assurance and expansion of these opportunities as an essential part of its academic planning toward the goal of being recognized as one of the world's leading public research universities.
Moreover, at the University of Toronto student housing is not only a matter of firmly-held principle, it is a practical necessity. Students choose the University of Toronto not only from the Greater Toronto Area, but from all parts of the province of Ontario, and everywhere in Canada. In addition, the University's ability to offer on-campus housing is an important factor in attracting international students, including international exchange students. The university can also play a significant role in addressing the particular needs of students with disabilities. Consequently, the university takes seriously its responsibility to try to help as many students as possible find accommodation either on campus or within reasonable commuting distance. As efforts to recruit and retain the very best minds continue, the provision of student housing will figure prominently in the kind of experience the university is able to offer.
Of additional and immediate concern, increasing demand from the double cohort and rising participation rates signal a serious shortage in the ability of the university to meet even current expectations. Demand at present far exceeds supply, and there is every indication that this trend will continue if not intensify. Students entering university directly from high school in particular are younger than ever before. For the first time, a "safe environment" emerged as the second most important factor influencing university selection (after "academic reputation") in the annual 2002 University Applicant Survey, with "guaranteed residence" ranking seventh on a list of thirty-four factors. While the university capital plan includes the construction of new residences, issues of access, capacity, and cost clearly need to be addressed.
The current Policy on Student Housing was approved by Governing Council on March 9, 1989. It derived significant strength from the landmark Report of the Provostial Advisory Committee on Student Housing Policy (the Silcox Report, July 1988) which helped to inform it, as well as helped to direct subsequent planning documents such as Student Housing: A Plan for the Next Phase (February 5, 1999), Expanding Residence Capacity at the University of Toronto (October 8, 1999), and a number of other policies and studies on various aspects of the student housing question.
It is clear, however, that changing circumstances and the current context call for a review and update of the existing Policy on Student Housing as well as associated university policies, plans, and processes. The timing is both opportune and critical. The urgency of rising demand calls for a carefully considered, but early, response.
For these reasons, the Provost has established a Task Force on Student Housing. In establishing the Task Force, the Provost has the full co-operation of the Federated Universities, who are responsible for student housing policy for the students enrolled in their colleges. The Federated colleges will be represented on the Task Force. The Report of the Task Force will be submitted to the Provost and to the heads of the Federated Universities, and its recommendations will be considered by the University Affairs Board and the respective authorities in the Federated Universities.
Terms of Reference:
David Farrar, Vice-Provost, Students (Chair)
Submissions related to the terms of reference of the Task Force are sought from all interested members of the University community and should be sent to the attention of Carol Robb, Office of the Vice-President and Provost, Room 221, Simcoe Hall, (416)978-6662, firstname.lastname@example.org, by January 31, 2003.