As housing shortages plague major student destinations worldwide, including Canada, there’s a pressing need to find solutions that benefit both international students and local residents. While the idea of capping international student numbers has been floated, experts assert that it’s not a viable or long-term solution.
Capping student numbers would be akin to a temporary fix that doesn’t address the root of the housing crisis. Moreover, international students contribute significantly to local economies through tuition fees and housing expenditures, indirectly benefiting the community. Instead of limiting enrollment, governments should focus on long-term strategies.
Collaboration and transparency among local councils, universities, accommodation operators, and developers are crucial, but governments must lead the charge. They should provide a comprehensive student housing strategy that can be applied at the local level, streamlining the development process by reducing red tape for developers and institutions.
Local governments can also play a pivotal role by providing access to land for purpose-built student accommodation in central, campus-adjacent locations. This approach has shown promise in places like Canada’s British Columbia, where community housing is linked with student accommodation, potentially adding thousands of beds.
Institutions can contribute by repurposing their land for housing and working with the housing sector to improve access and design without assuming excessive risk. Proactive data sharing and collaboration with local governments are key steps in addressing the housing crisis effectively.
Ultimately, the student housing issue requires a collective effort where campuses and communities work together to find innovative solutions. By doing so, they can address housing shortages without sacrificing the benefits of international student enrollment, fostering a more harmonious and sustainable future for all involved.