University of Guelph says it's looking at housing options for 1st-year students after criticism from mayor

The University of Guelph says it's looking at options to house first-year students. More than 1,300 students are on a waitlist to live on campus and the city's mayor says that's unacceptable. (Kate Bueckert/CBC - image credit)

The University of Guelph says it's exploring options that may result in more off-campus residence spaces for the fall semester.

The comments on Friday were in response to Mayor Cam Guthrie's statement Thursday condemning the university for admitting roughly 1,300 more students than they have residence spaces for this fall.

Statistics from the Ontario Universities' Application Centre show the University of Guelph has 7,849 confirmed offers of acceptance from students, a 52.6 per cent increase over 2023.

In an emailed statement from Jessamine Luck, a University of Guelph spokesperson, the university said it admitted more students this year "to enhance the university's financial sustainability and support academic and research excellence."

In anticipation of the higher enrolment, the statement said it increased the number of residence spaces at the North, South, East and West on-campus residences.

The university's statement said that in addition to spaces at a former hotel it's leasing on Gordon Street, it would be looking for community partnerships to expand off-campus spaces for fall.

Possible impact on community

In Guthrie's statement Thursday, he said the enrolment numbers would cause housing costs to rise, "making it harder not just for students scrambling for accommodations, but for current residents and newcomers to Guelph and other individuals already struggling to find housing in our community."

The university's statement, however, countered that and said "students contribute significantly to the Guelph economy and are active in their local community through volunteer work, community partnerships and other civic efforts."

The university's statement also noted the school is the second largest employer in the city and the administration believes its presence enhances the Guelph community by making it "a lively and engaging place to live for all residents."

Ontario students were told on June 3 whether they were given a spot in residence or if they're on the waitlist.

On June 5, the university website was updated to say "demand for residence has exceeded our capacity" and there is now a wait list for an on campus spot.

All international students and out-of-province students beginning their studies at the school this summer or fall have been guaranteed housing.