Little research on student accommodation in Quebec: report


More research is needed to better understand the problem and find solutions, according to an assistant professor involved in a review of existing studies.

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Although students are among the hardest hit by the housing crisis, research hardly focuses on the picture of student housing in Quebec, according to a report from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS).

In the report – “Challenges in student housing in Quebec and elsewhere: a review of the literature” – Nick Revington, assistant professor at the Center Urbanization Culture Société of the INRS, reviewed current research on student housing in Quebec. The report was prepared with the Chaire-réseau de recherche sur la jeunesse du Québec.

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“We didn't really find much, so we turned to writings from the rest of Canada and internationally to understand the scholarly debates on this question in other regions of the world and then figure out what we could identify as the key gaps in Quebec “,” Revington said in an interview.

He believes further research is needed to better understand the problem and find solutions.

Revington said the surveys conducted by the Unité de travail pour l'implantation de logement étudiant (UTILE) are “the best sources of data on students and student housing in Canada” in the absence of actual studies, especially since their data primarily concerns Quebec.

“The problem is that it's difficult to validate UTILE data because we don't have other sources of official data that are sufficiently detailed on students, socio-economic and socio-demographic characteristics, students in Quebec and Canada to say, 'Yes , “The UTILE data is very reliable – or not,” Revington explained.

He believes that the responsibility for developing research on this topic lies not only with researchers, but also with the government, such as the Ministry of Education, which could develop more robust official data on the student population.

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The report, which Revington was involved in, suggests some research opportunities that could be explored further.

“We need to better understand the impact of the housing crisis on students, on academic success and on the question of balancing work, family and studies,” he said, particularly whether the housing crisis is forcing students to work – or to work more hours they can pay for their accommodation and what impact this has on their academic success.

The professor pointed out that it might be relevant to ask whether some students decide not to continue their education due to the high cost of housing or the fact that it is difficult to find accommodation in the first place. The coexistence of students from university and college towns with local residents could also be examined.

Research should also look at student housing across the province, not just Montreal.

“The little research that exists in Quebec is really focused on Montreal, so there is also a need to understand the situation outside the metropolis,” Revington said. “The housing crisis affects not only Montreal, but more or less all university or college towns in Quebec.”

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Exploring existing solutions

For Revington, the issues surrounding student housing primarily affect the private market.

“Almost 70 percent of university students live in the private rental market,” he said. “In the private market there are issues of affordability and the ability to find housing. There are very low vacancy rates in several university towns in Quebec and also in cities with CEGEPs.”

He also stressed that there is a lack of space in university halls of residence, which explains the large proportion of students who have to find accommodation on the private rental market.

According to Revington, there are already certain innovative initiatives underway in Quebec that deserve to be further explored. As an example, he cited UTILE, which works to develop affordable housing for students, often in collaboration with student associations.

The report also highlights residency projects tailored to the specific needs of Indigenous students in Quebec, Trois-Rivières and Sept-Îles to promote their academic success.

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