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Pembroke's Algonquin College seeks housing for international students

With up to 75 international students beginning studies in January at Algonquin College's Pembroke campus, there is a growing need for housing and the college is seeking host families to meet that demand

Algonquin College in Pembroke is searching for a home for new international students beginning in January of 2023, and they are turning to the community for help.

Manager of community and student affairs for the Pembroke campus, Jamie Bramburger, said that an influx of students are set to arrive in early 2023 and they are worried they may not have enough housing.

“The Pembroke campus currently has approximately 30 international students, and we are expecting that number to more than double as we are expecting about 75 to 100 international students to join us in the winter term,” Bramburger said. “When programs resume on January 9, it is our hope they will have found some type of local accommodation.”

He said many of the students coming to the campus to pursue their studies will be from India, but more and more students are coming from other parts of the world.

“Our goal is to have the international students find a host family as that would be the best fit for them,” he said. “We have students travelling from Africa, Hong Kong and China and being in a brand new setting might be easier with welcoming families.”

The city of Pembroke is not unlike other Canadian cities that have a low vacancy rate and the demand for affordable, quality housing can be a challenge. There are several privately owned and operated student residences that support the College’s out-of-town student population, but with limited spaces available for the winter term, there is a need to create more opportunities for students to secure housing

“We recently held a second public information session in our community outreach to secure more housing options for out of town students, particularly international students,” he said. “The session was open to landlords and families interested in housing an international student.

“What the session does is provide an overview of the college enrolments, the growth in international enrolments, and the housing needs of students.  They explore the importance of location relevant to the campus, affordability for students and other aspects of college life.”

There are currently five privately owned and operated student residences in Pembroke that house Algonquin College students. These residences have about 200 beds combined.  Beyond the residences, students compete with others who are seeking housing in apartments, room rentals and house rentals. The College provides housing information to students on its website, but decisions on whether to enter into a rental agreement is left to the student/landlord.

“In order to meet this challenge, the college has a partner called Canadian Accommodation Services that manages a HomeStay program,” Bramburger added. “Homestay provides international students with an opportunity to experience Canadian culture within a household setting.”

On top of trying to find suitable accommodations, a challenge that the Pembroke campus faces, along with other rural communities that have satellite campuses is that most international students do not have their own means of transportation.

“As most out of town students and international students do not have access to a vehicle, and because there is no public transit system available within the city of Pembroke, the college is particularly interested in securing more housing opportunities for students within walking distance of the Pembroke Waterfront Campus.”

He said the most popular programs for international students are practical nursing, computer programmer and environmental management and assessment. The Pembroke campus has an annual enrolment of about 900 full time students.  The majority of students begin in the fall each year, but the campus has been expanding its winter intakes allowing the campus to accommodate more students with more options for students to start programs at different times of the year.

“We are anticipating our international enrolments will continue to grow in the next few years,” he said. The campus has responded to the growth in international students, by adding new intakes, particularly in the winter term. 

“A good example is a new intake of the Practical Nursing program, a program that historically has only had a fall intake.  There is now a winter intake as well.  This is in part to help address some of the labour market shortages within the health care sector, but also a response to the growing interest of international students in Canadian health care college programs.”

He encourages anyone interested in hosting an international student to contact the Pembroke Water Front Campus for more information at https://www.algonquincollege.com/pembroke/

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