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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.

JENS MARKUS LINDHE

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.

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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?

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About the Author
Editor, Globe Unlimited (Business)

Dave Morris joined the Globe and Mail in 2010 as Associate Editor of Report on Business Magazine. Born in St. John's, he graduated from Princeton University in 2003 and has written for publications including The Walrus and Maisonneuve. He has been nominated twice for Canada's National Magazine Awards. More

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