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University of Auckland now biggest in student accomodation

The opening of the University of Auckland’s new hostel – Waipārūrū – in time for the 2020 academic year will bring the total number of beds available for students to 4,500. This makes this country’s leading university the largest provider of student accommodation in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Michael Rengers, Associate Director of Accommodation, said that only 10 years ago the University had close to the least amount of student accommodation of the eight universities, but the increasing difficulty of finding affordable flats in Auckland resulted in a strategic decision to commit to meeting this need.

Since 2009, when the University provided just 1,300 beds, availability has more than tripled, with both first year and ongoing students being taken into consideration with a range of catered and independent living options. This growth represents investment of more than $600m, most of it from the private sector.

“However, although the University tenants a number of these properties, all of the accommodation is operated by the University – none of it is outsourced,” Rengers stresses.

“We control the properties, invite and accept the students who apply, and look after all elements of pastoral care. All our accommodation is regarded as part of wider University responsibility, including our commitment to the care of students, how buildings are managed from a security point of view, and even down to the roles of the residential advisers (RAs),” he says.

“The different types of accommodation we offer also mean students can move from traditional ‘school leaver’ hostel living to more independence. We know this provides a safe progression to independent flatting that many parents value.

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“Our plan is to continue to support students through their time with us – we don’t push them out the door at the end of their first year.”

The University has opened a new hall of residence almost every year since 2012. In 2019, 324 beds were added for first-year students with the redeveloped Grafton Hall. From next year (2020) another 786 will be available at Waipārūrū (Whitaker place) and 488 self-catered places at Te Tirohanga in Anzac Avenue.

Additionally, the University of Auckland Council has just approved development of Stage III of the Carlaw Park Student Village – New Zealand’s largest purpose-built self-catered student accommodation for new and returning undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Currently home to 700 residents in a combination of two, three, and four-bedroom apartments, the new stage will provide another 900 beds when it opens in 2023.

When Waipārūrū Hall (named for the freshwater stream that ran through the property) opens it will be the largest catered school leaver hall in Australasia – home to 786 residents across two towers. Its design and construction are intended to reinforce Whitaker Place as a student living precinct.

Te Tirohanga, also opening in time for the beginning of the first semester in 2020, allows for self-catering as well as providing spacious communal living and personal and 24/7 support from accommodation managers and RAs. The name Te Tirohanga o te Tōangaroa was gifted to the University by Ngāti Whātua. It translates to ‘The view of Tōangaroa’ (now Mechanics Bay), owing to its beautiful views of the surrounding harbour.

“There is a perception that the University of Auckland somehow offers a different sort of student experience because our students can’t live on campus,” Michael Rengers believes.

“There might have been some truth in this years ago but increasing numbers of students from outside Auckland are choosing us because they can live on campus. In fact, 33 percent of first-years live in student accommodation (compared with 10 percent 10 years ago).

“We’re also getting hundreds of Auckland-based students too – those who want to attend the country’s best university but also to live away from home.

Intending to continue to grow its accommodation offerings, the University prioritises accommodation as critical to a high quality and safe university experience.

“We know that affordable living can be one of the barriers to attending University, and also that living in a hall of residence can add another level to the University adventure. Our aim is to make that opportunity accessible to as many of our students who want it.”

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