Student housing surges

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 09/01/2014
Canterbury Uni
JOSEPH JOHNSON/ Fairfax NZ
QUICK BUILD: Rod Carr, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Canterbury, left, talks to Darren Tucker, site manager for Hawkins about a student accommodation facility located at Ilam Fields.

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Canterbury University has begun building 15 new student flats on campus to combat an "urgent" need for accommodation.

Construction of the four-bedroom, kitset houses began this week on one corner of the Ilam Fields and is due to be completed in the next few months. It is just one of many projects that has 600 tradesmen on campus as the university ramps up remediation plans over the summer.

It comes during a "surge" in student enrolment applications for 2014 - the first since the quakes.

The university received a three-year emergency housing consent for the flats, by which time it is hoped the accommodation shortage will have passed and the houses can be relocated, Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr says.

There would be spaces for 60 students, possibly in second and third year, who would live in self-contained flats but also have pastoral support and possibly the option of attending nearby halls for meals. "I would be very happy to have my little house in this spot," Carr said.

He was not overly concerned about potential noise complaints that might arise through students living in condensed housing.

"The reality is that when accommodation is short, just behave otherwise you might get asked to leave."

More than 150 beds had also been added back into halls, after they were replaced with temporary office accommodation last year for staff.

"The university has also taken the head lease on the 60-bed former Golf Academy on Innes Rd next to Mairehau High School and is undertaking minor renovations to add a further 28 beds in time for the start of term."

Construction was also expected to start this year on a new 240-bed hall of residence on the Dovedale campus, Carr said.

Demolition had begun on the old science block in preparation for the $212 million Regional Science and Innovation Centre which was due to be built on its site from later this year.

Asbestos removal that began on the building in October was about half the cost of demolition, Carr said.

Repairs to the civil and mechanical engineering block have already begun, but major engineering repairs funded with help from a $260m cash injection from the Government would begin by the end of the year.

The College of Business and Law was this week relocating back into their original building, and cafes and other services would be open by the start of semester. The College of Arts staff were also back in the history building.

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Carr was confident that student numbers were experiencing a "surge", especially within enrolment applications for new international students, which were up 50 per cent to 2077.

The overall student enrolment application figures were up 5.5 per cent on this time last year, to nearly 11,000. Another several thousand students were expected to enrol before the beginning of the semester, and halls of residence were already full.

- The Press

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