The student residences of the University of Quebec in Rimouski.
The 314 rental units for students at the University of Quebec in Rimouski (UQAR) are already full for the next academic year. All places were filled in less than two weeks. Unheard of since the inauguration of the residences in 1988, according to its director.
For the fall semester, 96 units were available for rental. Between March 1 and March 13, I received 233 applications for admission, says Hélène Fortin, director of student housing at UQAR, the organization managing rental units. Of the number, 150 files are compliant.
Meanwhile, the waiting list has been blocked by the management of student residences, due to a lack of available places. For the first time in 30 years, we had to block the form so as not to mislead anyone, explains the director of student housing at UQAR.
Hélène Fortin As we have seen for years, student accommodation at the University quickly finds takers. However, this year will have been an exceptional one; never have residences been filled so quickly.
Director of UQAR Student Housing, Hélène Fortin.
“A lot of times, residencies act as a transition. The students will stay for a year, they will bond and find an apartment in town… but currently our residents cannot find apartments, so they stay in the residences, which leaves less places for new ones students. »
— Hélène Fortin, director of the Student Housing organization at UQAR
This pressure on student residences is simultaneously reducing its hotel offer. While it expected to offer about fifty apartments for parents and volunteers of the Quebec Games in Rimouski in July, the management will finally be able to rent only about twenty.
The problem is well known to the university administration, which is not surprised by the situation. We've known for two or three years that the phenomenon of the housing crisis in Rimouski exists, and the impact is felt first and foremost in our residences, says the director of student community services at establishment, Jean-François Ouellet.
Combining the attractiveness of its establishment and a limited capacity in terms of housing, such is the challenge for UQAR in the coming years. The enthusiasm for the University of Bas-Saint-Laurent is obvious; the number of registrations has increased by 12% in 6 years at the Rimouski campus.
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And that number should increase further. Three hundred additional students could be accommodated in the next few years, according to the management of student residences, resulting from the growth of various programs, such as veterinary medicine and psychology.
UQAR is in full development, it's great, but we need room to accommodate these students, summarizes Hélène Fortin.
However, there is no question for UQAR of curbing the number of admissions. Our mission is to train, to educate people to be active elements for the society of tomorrow, explains Jean-François Ouellet. The University does not want to make admission freezes.
The establishment welcomed a record number of international students last fall, 650, a 50% increase compared to 2017 for the Rimouski and Lévis campuses. The goal is for these numbers to increase further, says Mr. Ouellet.
It is certain that at the end of the track, we are slowed down, he nuances. Dozens, if not hundreds of students spend months filling out the paperwork to get their Quebec acceptance certificate and study permit, and we come to the very end of the funnel to tell them: & #x27;'Don't come,'says the director of student community services, for whom it's a thankless job.
The director of student community services at the University of Quebec at Rimouski, Jean-François Ouellet.
In addition, unlike last year, UQAR does not plan to launch appeals to all to house its homeless students. The offensive did not have the expected result, according to Jean-François Ouellet. Almost all of these initiatives had one constraint or the other, he explains. It was becoming difficult to manage this kind of connection.
UQAR nevertheless negotiated the reservation of about twenty units on the private rental market, i.e. double the last years.
At the same time, UQAR's project to bring about a hundred student residences out of the ground by the start of the 2024 school year is going well, assures Hélène Fortin. Part of the plans and specifications should be completed by April. Then, the project will be submitted to the Affordable Housing Program of Quebec (PHAQ) in order to obtain a government subsidy, which will be authorized or not in June.
For now, winning this grant will define the future of the project. We don't have a plan B in case of refusal, explains Hélène Fortin, the director of residences.
The student accommodation would be built on land adjacent to the existing residence halls. (File photo)
We have the land, the plans and the will to do it, declares Jean-François Ouellet, who is again asking for financial assistance from Quebec, but also that of the City of Rimouski, particularly with regard to the setting in motion of rental projects.
I don't currently see that things are moving, and we at the University want things to move, exclaims the director of services to the UQAR student community, who mentions the postponement of several real estate projects in Rimouski, the Sainte-Agnès block being the last in line.
Mr. Ouellet has no illusions, however, the 100 residences project could also be caught up in current economic conditions. I know that the calculations are made to take into consideration current interest rates, material costs, and our project is feasible, all the same, he indicates.
The first sod of the project, estimated at $8.6 million, is still scheduled for next fall.