Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Dorms so cushy students won’t want to graduate

Tietgen Dormitory (Tietgenkollegiet), a seven-storey, 360-room university residence in Copenhagen’s rapidly developing Ørestad district has 30 kitchens, a bike workshop and showers and toilets in every room.


The battle to recruit the best and the brightest university students is beginning to resemble trench warfare. In addition to star faculty and high-end academic facilities, some schools are offering students a residence experience that's light-years away from the concrete-block dorms and communal bathrooms of old.

Nevertheless, Danish parents may want to think twice about sending their kids to Tietgen Dormitory (Tietgenkollegiet), a seven-storey, 360-room university residence in Copenhagen's rapidly developing Ørestad district–there are so many amenities, the kids won't have any incentive to graduate. With 30 kitchens, a bike workshop and showers and toilets in every room, why would anyone want to leave? Certainly not to go to class.

Since opening in 2006, the dorm–whose design was inspired by Hakka Chinese architecture–has attracted students from the University of Copenhagen, the Copenhagen Business School and others nearby. Like many dormitories in Denmark, Tietgenkollegiet is privately operated; this model is rare in North America, but a few schools here are approaching private firms to devise cushy housing.

Story continues below advertisement

When the University of California at Irvine wanted to attract international students and shake off its reputation as a commuter school, it partnered with American Campus Communities. The Texas-based developer built four upscale dorms with a total of 5,144 beds and a price tag of $420-million (U.S.), bankrolled by the sale of tax-exempt bonds. Irvine's newest residence, Camino del Sol, features townhomes arranged around a resort-style pool, as well as a hot tub, air hockey and a 24-hour fitness centre. Rent for a four-bedroom unit ranges from $812 to $911 (U.S.) per month per person.

Even executive education programs are touting more than just face time with big-name professors. At the Wharton School's San Francisco campus, the EMBA program, which costs $175,678 (U.S.), includes free iPads.

For undergrads, many schools still rely on a tried-and-true sweetener to win over hesitant high-schoolers: money. To compete with Ivy League colleges, other well-regarded schools, such as Wake Forest University in North Carolina and Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, offer a handful of full-cost academic scholarships to top candidates. Yes, but how are the bathrooms?

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to