UBCO Student Housing Response to COVID-19

Last updated: Thursday, July 1, 12:19pm

Along with UBC, Student Housing has implemented plans to provide the best possible accommodation for our residents given COVID-19 challenges and the fact that most classes will be held online during Fall 2020. This website contains useful FAQs and resources, and is being updated regularly following advice from provincial and federal health agencies.

Health and safety remains our first priority and we continue to work closely with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and with other post-secondary institutions within B.C. to ensure our plans are aligned with health and safety guidelines.

Residence for Term 1 (Fall)

Winter Session Residence (First Year)

Although many first-year classes will be accessible online, we will have limited residence options. We recognize some first-year students may need to be on campus due to academic requirements and/or personal needs. As long as space is available, we will provide housing accommodation for qualifying students who are required to be on campus. Amenities and services will be adjusted to abide by health authority guidelines.

If you need to live on-campus, please click here and complete First Year Residence Eligibility Application by Saturday, June 13, 2020. 

You may continue to submit applications to be considered based on availability. Applications submitted by the June 13 deadline will be prioritized.

Winter Session Residence (Upper Year): Ongoing provision until further notice

UBC Student Housing will provide Winter Session accommodation for upper-year and graduate students. Residence offers for September occupancy will be distributed by email beginning later in June. Once received, students will follow our normal protocol and will have a few days to accept and pay the first instalment of residence fees.



Why are some Winter Session residences open but not first year residence?

First year traditional residence facilities and programs are intentionally designed to be communal and emphasize shared experiences in shared spaces. In a typical year, most first year students live together in close quarters, eat together in large residence dining rooms, and spend time together in communal study, social and recreation rooms. While in normal circumstances these shared spaces are advantageous, they now make meeting physical distancing and other public health expectations overly challenging.

Although many first-year classes will be accessible online, we continue to have residence options. We recognize some first-year students may need to be on campus due to academic requirements and/or personal needs. If you wish to live on campus, please click here and follow the application instructions. As long as space is available, we will provide housing accommodation for students who are required to be on campus. Amenities and services will be limited to abide by health authority guidelines.

Suite-style residence generally houses upper year students and graduate students. These one-bedroom apartments, studios, and quads are home to smaller groups of students and are more akin to a small household bubble.

Can I still apply for housing for Term 1? What are my options?
If you are a first year student, you may still be eligible to apply for housing for Term 1. Please visit this webpage.

I have concerns related to the payment of my residence fees, who can I contact for help?

If you would like to discuss short term payment deferrals, our Housing Administration team is here to help. Please contact us at information@housing.okanagan.ubc.ca

If you’re facing financial hardship or have questions around your finances, please contact Financial Aid at sis.ubco@ubc.ca.

Will there be first year residence spaces for Term 2?

A decision about whether or not first-year classes will be online for Term 2 has not yet been made. If UBC returns to offering primarily in-person classes in Term 2, an increased number of residential spaces will become available. Your application will remain on file and we will contact you with more information in the fall.

With most classes going online, what are the academic eligibility requirements to live in student housing?

Students will be required to be enrolled in at least 9 credits each term (in person or online) to maintain their eligibility for student housing.

I’ve heard great things about the Living Learning Communities (LLCs), what’s the plan for this year?
As the majority of our LLCs are located within traditional residence spaces, we have had to make the difficult decision to not offer our LLC programme for the Fall term.

As more information becomes available we may be able to offer a selection of LLCs, we will reach out to students with active Housing Offers when we know more.

I’m an upper year student with roommate requests, will we be able to live together still?
If you and your roommate requests all have accepted offers and have matching room preferences, we will do our best to honor these requests. We will be abiding by the recommendations of health authorities when making room assignments.
Where can I find more information about student supports?


How will you ensure students don't get sick?

Student Housing is taking measures that align with guidance from health authorities, and help create a healthy, safer and supportive community environment, noting that it takes everyone in the community to accomplish this goal. Please appreciate that in a pandemic situation no one can ensure safety from sickness.

If I'm sick, what should I do?

If you are ill and experiencing symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing), we recommend that you visit the BC Centre for Disease Control website for the most up to date information about what to do if you’re sick. The site includes a link to the BC COVID-19 Self Assessment Tool that you can use to help determine if you need further assessment or testing.

Contact us at information@housing.okanagan.ubc.ca

I'm moving into UBC Student Housing in Fall 2020 and will need to self-isolate/quarantine for two weeks. Can you help?

If you have a Residence Contract with us, we may be able to offer you a self-isolation suite either on-campus (depending on availability) or off-campus for the 14-day isolation period. On-campus self-isolation suites will be available for isolation periods ending by Aug 15, after which residents will be granted early arrival to their assigned units (if required). Please contact us at information@housing.okanagan.ubc.ca  for more information about self-isolating options and associated fees.

What will happen if a resident contracts the virus while living in student housing?

A number of self-contained suites have been set aside for residents who become ill during the fall 2020 term and require self-isolation / quarantine support. If this occurs, we will work closely with health authorities to ensure all safety precautions are taken for ill individuals and other residents. Student residents who are ill are asked to contact us at information@housing.okanagan.ubc.ca

Will I be told if another person at UBC or on my floor/house/residence is diagnosed with confirmed COVID-19?
In the event of a confirmed case, information would be provided to the public by the relevant health agency, according to their protocols. Typically, contacts of confirmed cases would be contacted by public health to discuss precautions. If a resident exposure is identified in follow-up with a confirmed case, public health would contact the relevant facility to discuss next steps.
What Residence amenities have been adjusted in response to COVID-19?

We will continue to provide the services and amenities that align with guidance from health authorities, and help create a healthy, safer and supportive community environment. Key adjustments may include:

  • Communal/common spaces may be temporarily closed or have seating removed. This includes study rooms along with outdoor recreation spaces.
  • Community building events and activities will not take place, including building competitions and large-scale events.
  • There may be a reduced number of residents overall, and limited opportunities and support for building communities.
  • The Residence Meal Plan will be modified: There will be reduced selection of food options, meals will likely be take-out only, and physical distancing protocols mandated at all food service locations.

Keep in mind that we may have to adjust our services and amenities on an ongoing basis, often on short notice, to align with public health authorities. Please also be aware that Student Housing is not enforcing physical distancing. As health authorities reminds us, they “are recommending physical distancing as one of the ways to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. At this time, there are no public health orders enforcing physical distancing.” Please visit this page for details and FAQs.

How is residence supporting physical distancing, hygiene and health protocols?
  • Residence staff trained to refer residents with cold or flu-like symptoms to HealthLink BC at 8-1-1, Health & Wellness or their health care professional.
  • Limited number of self-isolation units set aside for residents who are not local and have been directed by their health professional to self-isolate.
  • Additional signage in community and public washrooms and throughout residence buildings reminding residents, staff and visitors to wash their hands.
  • Hand sanitizer dispensers throughout our buildings.
  • Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing.
  • Outdoor recreational areas are closed with the directive to maintain physical distancing and avoid sports requiring shared equipment.
  • Elevator protocols have been adjusted and guidelines have been posted.
What other preventative measures can I take?

The advice from health agencies is:

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.
  • If a sink is not available, 60-90% alcohol-based hand rubs (hand sanitizer) can be used to clean hands if they are not visibly soiled. If they are visibly soiled, you can use an alcohol-based disposable hand wipe to remove the dirt and then use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Do not touch your eyes/nose/mouth with unwashed hands.
  • When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow, and then wash your hands.
  • Stay home when you are ill to avoid spreading the illness to others.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick with an infection.
  • If you are ill, have symptoms of flu like a fever or cough, you should stay home.


Winter Session Residence (First Year)

We will retain your $50 application fee in the hope that we can apply it to a January (Term 2) Housing offer. If Term 2 is online, your application fee will be refunded.

Winter Session Residence (Upper Year)
  • We will refund your $250 deposit fee if you cancel your offer by June 11th, 2020 at 11:59pm PST. Otherwise, our normal cancellation procedure applies. For more information about cancellations and refunds visit this page.
  • If you would like your  application to be eligible for a possible Term 2 Winter Session offer, please email information@housing.okanagan.ubc.ca  by October 30, 2020. We will prioritize your Winter Session application for a January 2021 offer based on availability.
Why is the $50 Residence Application Fee non-refundable to upper-year students?

Residence application fees continue to be non-refundable because UBC is still offering student housing for upper year students. We are anticipating that a number of upper year students will continue to seek housing on campus for the fall term. As a result, we will be continuing to send residence offers for September, and our typical refund policy with respect to application fees will stand.

Exception: Residence application fees for First Year Residence (Winter Session) will be refunded only if we are unable to open first year residence spaces by Jan 2021.

If I cancel my application, can I maintain my place on the waitlist (original application date)?
If you cancel your application, you will not maintain your place on the waitlist. Please contact us if you are only interested in a Term 2 offer.
If I decline an offer can I maintain my place on the waitlist?

Typically not. Please contact us if you are only interested in a Term 2 offer.


Tell me more about Summer Student Housing

We currently have upper-year students living in Summer Housing. Find out more here.

I currently live in summer housing, what happens next?
  • Accepted Housing Offer: If you have an accepted Winter Session Housing Offer you will be able to remain in residence between the Summer and Winter sessions. More information about this process is forthcoming and we will contact you about your needs.
  • Housing Waitlist Number: If you have a Winter Session waitlist number you will retain your position on the waitlist and may receive an offer this summer, however, you should continue to monitor your own waitlist number.
  • No Application: If you have not yet applied for housing and have been unable to vacate residence due to Covid-19 related issues please contact us at information@housing.okanagan.ubc.ca for more information.
Where can I buy food or dine on campus this spring/summer?

Right now, you can procure food at Picnic and the Tim Horton’s Library location. Both of these locations are take-out only. There are also various off-campus dining partners currently open. To see what’s open right now, and where, head here.


Check back in soon for more information.

Who can I contact if I have additional questions?

Please do not hesitate to reach out to our office and we can direct you to supports.

If you’re facing financial hardship or have questions around your finances, speak to our student services department.

We also understand this is a challenging time for many and we are here to help.

Please check this page regularly for important updates. We also encourage you to stay up-to-date at www.ubc.ca where you will find FAQs with additional resources and information.