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  March 4, 2002

Study: Grad Students Prefer
Apartments Close to Campus
By Karen A. Grava

A study of the need for graduate student housing shows that there is sufficient demand to support 300 to 600 beds and that students have a clear preference for apartments close to campus.

The study, carried out recently by Anderson Strickler LLC of Gaithersburg, Md., shows that graduate students prefer one- and two-bedroom apartments that are affordable and that permit them to avoid bringing cars onto campus on a daily basis, says Carole Henry, executive director of housing and food services.

"Graduate students live independently, so they are concerned first about affordability and second about convenience. They would like amenities such as washers and dryers, but only if the rent doesn't go up too much," she says. "Since most of the students spend many hours on campus - and a lot of hours on campus late at night - getting their research done, they really want to be close by."

The study also shows that most students prefer graduate residences to be separate from undergraduate residences, and for families with children to be separated from graduate students without children.

Henry says having apartments that are close to campus available to students when they enroll would give the University a competitive advantage. And, given the rural nature of Storrs, having apartments available would streamline graduate students' transition to the community.

The study points out that some peer institutions, such as Boston College and the University of Maryland, do not provide housing for graduate students, but they are located in cities where housing is readily available. At the more rural University of Maine, 23 percent of graduates enrolled are housed on campus, while at North Carolina State University, 17 percent, and at the University of Vermont, 14 percent are housed on campus.

"Positive attributes of living on campus include convenience to campus facilities and services ... the opportunity to meet and interact with other students (and those from other countries), and no dependency on a car, freedom from commuting and parking problems," UConn students told Anderson Strickler. Students also viewed favorably the ability to simplify the housing search process.

Students who live in the graduate residences, which are slated to be torn down and replaced, along with West Campus, complained about the small rooms, poor kitchen design, distant parking, inflexible furniture, and the "happy-go-lucky undergraduate neighbors," the study says.

The study shows that the University provides housing for 17 percent of its graduate students, including those housed in Northwood Apartments, Hilltop Apartments, and the graduate residences. If a new graduate apartment complex were to be constructed, it would probably ease the waiting list for Northwood and permit other facilities to be used for other purposes - such as housing for visiting scholars or short-term transitional housing for faculty and staff, says Henry.

The Mansfield Apartments, which in the past housed students with children or newly hired faculty and staff, currently house 210 juniors and seniors. Once additional residence halls are opened in 2003, says Henry, the apartments will again be available for other uses.

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