It has long been difficult to obtain detailed data on the residential living conditions of the student population. This is because existing rental market data (produced by the CMHC) does not isolate student households, Statistics Canada demographics provide few residential details, and there was no dedicated survey on the subject within the university network.
UTILE is the only organization in Quebec to have documented the situation of student tenants. Thus, the vast studies carried out every three years with the student population of the majority of Quebec universities have made it possible to draw a new portrait. It appears that:
Only 9% of university students live in residences.
61% of university students are tenants in the private rental market.
219,000 university students are tenants in Quebec.
40,000 university students are in dire need despite loans, grants and parental assistance.
In 2014, UTILE tackled the lack of information on student housing by launching the first edition of the FLASH / PHARE survey (Facilitating Learning and Awareness on Student Housing / la Prospection des habitudes et aspirations résidentielles étudiantes). This survey, conducted on four campuses, collected 11,000 responses and led to several research projects.
A second edition took place in 2017, garnering more than 17,000 responses across Quebec thanks to the participation of 15 partners. The results were notably reported in the media in many regions, cited in briefs produced by student associations and used in a study funded by the Société d’habitation du Québec.
Given the relevance of the data, the partners agreed at that time to maintain the three-year pace of the university survey. At the same time, UTILE coordinated the first FLASH / PHARE survey in 2019 at the college level.