Students across BC are faced with several burdens as they return to the classroom with increases in tuition, books and cost of living and one person at North Island College says they should be burdened with the added pressure of finding accommodations.
According to the Alliance of BC Students, tuition is capped at two per cent; housing is growing out of control because of inflation leaving both new and returning students having to absorb more debt just to find a place to sleep and study.
Director of Student Affairs Craig Witton says the college puts student concerns first and has developed a program to help alleviate some of the pressure when it comes to finding housing.
“Places for students is a program which has helped student renters, and landlords to connect and is free to use,” he says. “It allows landlords to rent their spaces to students in a much more accessible way.
“We have got a lot of positive feedback from the program, and we are happy to provide it to students.”
North Island College started a new student housing project back in 2022 which they expect to be completed in 3 years and will offer an additional 217 beds to accommodate 157 individuals and 60 family specific rooms.
Witton he says it is beneficial and provides support for not only students, but for the community to allow others to get housing.
“Every student we house on campus is a free space in the community, where community members can rent it,” Witton says. “We definitely see ourselves as part of the bigger solution.”
According to rental.ca the average one-bedroom rental is now $2,163 a month, which doesn’t fit most students’ budget for off-campus housing, and in most cases doesn’t align with being 30 per cent of the renter’s income.
Witton says the college is still debating how they are going to accommodate the rising costs but assures them they are going to take student needs into consideration before setting pricing.
“We want to set them in accordance with the priorities of the project,” he says. “One of them is accessibility, if you charge too much then it no longer for spaces, they are no longer accessible.
“I will say this housing project is designed to be at below market rates, students will be able to live with us for less money.”
North Island College currently serves more than 9,000 students from campuses in Campbell River, Courtenay, Port Alberni, and Port Hardy with 49 per cent of the student body identifying as renters.