Will more housing at UVM lead to higher student enrollment?

Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 5:58 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 15, 2023 at 7:45 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Yet another housing project is in the works for students at the University of Vermont. The school plans to build a new unit to house 540 students next to the Doubletree Hotel in South Burlington. This marks the third major project planned or proposed by the university in just a few years.

But some are concerned more student housing will lead to higher enrollment.

“The first issue with on-campus students is fundamentally with residential life there is a serious overcrowing issue,” said Aspen Overy, a student at UVM who is also a part of the Burlington Tenants Union.

When Overy heard UVM was putting in new housing for undergraduate juniors and seniors, they were all for it, but only under the condition that UVM stops bringing in more students.

“We have already seen triples are being taken over. People are really being packed in. It’s really good to have new housing, but if UVM doesn’t pair that with stopping every single class being the largest class ever, then it only fixes the problem for a couple years,” Overy said.

UVM says it has no plans to grow beyond the current number of undergrad students. They have admitted around 3,000 new students every year with last fall being the highest in more than 10 years.

Administrators say they’re trying to be good neighbors by building new housing to alleviate the demand for rental units in Burlington.

“There is a much greater demand, especially from upper-class students, to have their own kitchen, to have their own individual bedrooms. Helping Burlington, as well, of course, a lot of our students live in Burlington. So the hope is we can open up some more room there, as well,” said Richard Cate, the vice president for finance and administration at UVM.

Some city councilors in Burlington and South Burlington hope for that, too. They are in favor of opening up more housing, but only under the condition that the school caps enrollment.

Burlington City Council Chair Joan Shannon says the council has already turned down the school’s request to convert it’s Trinity Campus to more student housing.

“That was a request that would allow increased enrollment. It will allow more housing for freshmen and sophomores. More housing for freshmen and sophomores will lead to more juniors and seniors living in the neighborhoods,” said Shannon, D-Burlington City Council.

Despite concerns about more students from city leaders, it’s also important to note that one economic study says UVM generates more than $1 billion in economic activity in Vermont.

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