Executive Summary of the Draft Report to the Provost of the Graduate Student Housing Working Group
Editor’s Note. For the entire report see: orgchart.mit.edu/sites/default/files/reports/20140116_Provost_FinalGradHousing.pdf
In March 2013, the Provost appointed the Graduate Student Housing Working Group to evaluate how graduate student housing needs are currently met, identify strengths and weaknesses in the current system, and make recommendations for meeting graduate housing needs in the future.
The group reviewed past committee reports, analyzed existing and new data, consulted broadly with graduate students, faculty, and the Cambridge community, and reviewed the experience of peer institutions.
We settled on addressing five subtopics: graduate students’ attitudes toward their current housing situation; the Boston-area housing market; the utilization, adequacy, quality, and sustainability of the graduate housing inventory; future graduate enrollment; and graduate housing at peer institutions.
Graduate students express high levels of satisfaction with the housing choices they have made. Housing is not a critical factor in their decision to attend MIT, but cost is a major concern. Graduate families and international students face special challenges in finding housing, and these groups express more desire to live on campus than single students do.
We estimated unmet on-campus housing demand using two measures: the number of students who live off campus but would rather live on campus, and the durable size of the waitlist. These two measures revealed significant unmet demand for on-campus graduate housing.
In the Cambridge housing market, rents have been increasing steeply, condo conversions have been reducing the supply of affordable housing, and new housing construction consists mostly of luxury units. The 62% of MIT graduate students living off campus will likely be squeezed further by these trends. MIT cannot rely on the market to provide affordable housing as it has in the past.
Graduate students living on campus express high levels of satisfaction with their housing, although there is some dissatisfaction with deferred-maintenance and operational issues in three of the graduate residences. The Institute has already committed to a capital renewal plan that will ensure the continuance of existing housing resources. Including additional units in the renewal would be a way to meet graduate housing needs.
The number of graduate students is not likely to increase or decrease significantly in the next decade. Reliance on postdoctoral staff has grown in recent years, a trend that may continue.
Our survey of housing opportunities for graduate students at peer institutions revealed that MIT is a leader in supporting on-campus graduate housing.
We recommend that MIT build housing for 500–600 students, and that these housing units be configured not in traditional dormitory-style facilities but in buildings that can accommodate a variety of housing types, ranging from studios and multi-bedroom suites to apartments. We recommend further that these housing units be capable of accommodating both married and unmarried students and families.
We recommend that to facilitate capital renewal, MIT create 400 additional beds to meet swing-space needs over the course of the next decade and, at the end of that period, make that housing available to graduate students. A range of development options exist for this new housing in addition to traditional dormitory development channels. These include partnerships with developers, long-term leases on new housing, inclusion in already-planned capital renewal in graduate housing, and incorporation into nonresidential building on campus. We make no recommendations regarding potential locations for these projects.
We make other recommendations with the aim of supporting the service, renewal, and operational aspects of graduate housing. We also make the argument that as MIT undertakes capital planning both on the east end of the campus and in Kendall Square, graduate students should be considered as a vital population that could contribute significantly to an outstanding and enhanced environment. MIT faces an opportunity in the next few years to greatly enhance the value of the campus and to create a place worthy of our legacy, achievement, and ambition.