So far, about 30 per cent of the beds in Red Deer College’s student residences are booked for the fall semester, when classes will resume mostly online.
Trent Rix, RDC’s director of ancillary and sport services, said in a normal year by this time, there would be a waiting list for the 721 beds.
But even with space still available, more students than anticipated have applied, given the pandemic.
Rix said many students still feel the best option is to stay on campus.
“They may be in a situation where they live out in the country and their internet is not very good. Coming here, they have access to the best internet possible, and also have closer access to things like the library and other services on campus, which will all be open in the fall,” Rix said.
More students may also decide to apply for housing as the year progresses. Some students are delaying their return until the winter semester, he said.
Unlike universities in Alberta, which are closing dormitories to protect students against COVID-19, the college only has apartment or townhouse-style housing, where each student has his or her own bedroom. The new five-storey residence has 145 studio suites.
He said housing for students has continued to be available this summer and 20 people are currently in residence.
They may be students from far away who don’t want to travel back home, or they secured summer employment here and are just waiting for the next term to start.
Nineteen units are also set aide for families who often remain on campus until they complete their programs.
The cost of campus housing ranges from $3,180 per term for a standard studio suite in the new residence to $2,240 to stay in a four-bedroom apartment-style unit with a shared kitchen, living room and one washroom.
Rix said residence costs increased 2.9 per cent based on a market analysis. Laundry and parking costs have been eliminated, and there are no COVID-19 cleaning fees.
Residences will continue to be available only to students.
“We want to keep our students as safe as possible. Introducing additional populations into the residences only complicates our ability to make sure we do our best to keep them safe and well. At this time, we’re not entertaining any secondary uses for residences,” Rix said.
“It is going to be a unique year. Our job is to do our best to give students every opportunity to be successful, whether that’s from a living perspective, or a student-support perspective, or the efforts we put forward in the classroom or the online environment.
“It’s really important that we provide them with every opportunity.”