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StudentDwellTO: Ryerson, U of T, York and OCAD Students and Faculty Take on Affordable Housing in Massive Joint Research Project

August 29, 2017

The presidents of Toronto’s four universities – Ryerson University, University of Toronto, OCAD University and York University have teamed up for a new initiative called StudentDwellTO to tackle one of the biggest issues facing post-secondary students in the Greater Toronto area: affordable housing.

The initiative brings together nearly 100 faculty and students from the four universities to take an in-depth look at student housing in the GTA.

This follows a previous collaboration between the four universities: a massive survey of student travel behaviour, called StudentMoveTO, which revealed that long daily commutes for students – many of whom live far away where housing is more affordable – were leading to lower campus engagement and in some cases limiting students’ class choices.

StudentMoveTO and StudentDwellTO are parts of an initiative by the presidents of the four universities aimed at improving the state of the city-region – and, in turn, the experiences for university students in the GTA.

“We want to understand the impact on student experience and quality of life as a result of the growing problem of unaffordable housing in our city, especially given the context of an increasingly diverse student population and their housing needs,” says Shelagh McCartney, professor at Ryerson’s School of Urban Planning and Ryerson’s research lead for StudentDwellTO. “Our aim is to propose creative and grounded solutions that are diverse, equitable and inclusive.”

StudentDwellTO will look at housing affordability from a range of perspectives, bringing together disciplines including architecture, art, education, engineering, environmental studies and design, geography, psychology, real estate management and urban development and planning.

The two-year initiative will have heavy research and advocacy components, and the researchers will collect data using a variety of research methods that include:

  • wide-scale focus groups and accompanying surveys to draw out narratives surrounding students’ lived experiences,
  • interactive website and community arts programming and communication tools, and
  • interactive maps to develop affordable housing strategies.

The subject matter will also be incorporated into experiential learning courses, across all four universities and various disciplines, to propose and test solutions to the student housing experience and crisis.

Along the way, researchers will collaborate with government, non-profit, private sector and community partners in the GTA.  Each university will hold public events, including affordable housing charrettes, to get a wide range of input on solutions.

Ryerson University is Canada’s leader in innovative, career-oriented education. Urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to more than 44,600 students, including 2,600 master’s and PhD students, 3,100 faculty and staff, and nearly 185,000 alumni worldwide. For more information, visit





Johanna VanderMaas
Manager, Public Affairs 
University Relations | Ryerson University
416.979.5000 x 4630