by Melanie Takefman
Je veux faire une cité universitaire, said Mayor
Gerald Tremblay at the Montreal Summit last spring, and so it will be.
Plans are underway for a comprehensive residence to house approximately
2,500 Canadian and international students, interns and visiting professors
from Montreals four universities.
We want to make this cité more than a traditional
residence, said Claudette Fortier, assistant director of Advocacy
and Support Services and Concordias representative on the planning
committee for the cité. We want to encourage contact
between exchange students, people from different cultures and foreign
and Canadian students.
The committee is looking to international residences in other cities as
models. One is the cité universitaire in Paris, a residential
campus, which houses 5,000 French and international students and
is not affiliated with any university. New York City and Los Angeles both
offer students the possibility of living in international houses.
Montreal has always been a hot destination for international students:
In 2001, Quebec hosted 14,021, of whom 2,009 were enrolled at Concordia.
Increasingly, the importance of their contribution to the citys
multicultural dialogue, economy, intellectual activities and international
reputation is being recognized.
International students contribute to the vitality of intellectual
life and encourage open-mindedness as well as cultural exchanges... They
represent a vast network of contacts in over 100 foreign countries and
become ambassadors of Montreal in their countries of origin, according
to a report drafted by the planning committee.
While the number of incoming students has increased by 53.2 per cent since
1997, Montreal is facing competition from other urban centres as the prime
destination of choice and in the past few years, student housing
has been scarce. Concordia is particularly disadvantaged in terms
of residence space, said Fortier.
The cité will ease, but not solve, Concordia students housing
tribulations, she added.
Tremblay and the planning committee hope that the cité will
make Montreal the premiere destination for international students.
The committee has met four times to date and is composed of representatives
from the citys universities, McGill, Concordia, Université
de Montréal and UQAM, as well as Hautes études commericales,
École de technologie supérieure and École polytechnique,
and the city of Montreal.
Guy Berthiaume, associate vice-rector and director of the rectors
cabinet at the U de M, heads the committee. As former director of the
Canadian house in Pariss cité universitaire, he brings
a wealth of experience to the fledgling project.
While the cité is still in the preliminary stages of planning,
members of the committee envision cultural programming and a conference
centre within the cité, among other services.
Furthermore, the committee expects spots in the residence to be in high
demand and will devise eligibility criteria and an application process;
only graduate students may be admitted, for example. Similarly, each institution
will integrate their needs into the overall plan.
The location of the cité is yet to be determined, but will
be central. Fortier said that satellite houses adjacent to the institutions
outside of the citys core are being considered.
A committee hopes to complete a feasibility study by June 2003. The study,
to be conducted by an independent research firm, will examine the international
student market, and determine how to deliver the best service possible
and continue to attract international students.
The committee will subsequently develop a basic concept for the residence,
propose an administration strategy, draw up a budget and propose a plan
If all goes well, a tangible proposal for the cité will
materialize before the end of 2003.