Over the last half century Canadian student housing has evolved many times. Some of the milestones have included: a major residence building boom beginning in the 1960's, the introduction of the RA position and the eventual adoption of professional staff to supervise student staff , a suite style building wave began in the 1980's, the first Living Learning Communities were seen around 1990 and about 20 years ago private developers began constructing and operating residence buildings.
The next evolution in Canadian student housing seems to be upon us. A struggling economy combined with rising government debt means schools must seek out new solutions when new construction is considered. Last week, an article in the Globe & Mail highlighted that several schools, including University of Toronto, Trent University and Simon Fraser University, are exploring the P3 model (public-private-partnerships) as a way to add student housing without taking on debt. My school can also be added into the mix.
With university and college executive along with developers not being intimately aware of the factors involved in operating a residence an opportunity exists, at this early stage, for student housing professionals to point out a set of values important to creating successful residence communities where student success is maximized. OACUHO and RLPA are in a great position to take a lead on communicating this set of values and they have the advantage of looking south to use the US as a guide since the P3 model is further along the evolutionary path.