FAIRBANKS - The University of Alaska Fairbanks will require all first-year freshmen to live on campus starting in the fall semester, officials said.
The university's new rule is aimed at boosting academic success and student retention, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Monday.
Studies indicate students who spent their first year living on campus had higher success rates, said Holly Beamon, acting director of residence life.
The requirement is part of a program called Education, Growth, Development and Experience and applies to freshmen under 21 who are enrolled in nine credits or more.
"The truth is part of student success is getting to know people, getting connected and getting plugged in and sometimes, when you don't have the opportunity to do that, you get isolated," Beamon said.
Overall dormitory occupancy rates fluctuated over the past three years, from 87% in fall 2016, to 78% a year later and 80% in fall 2018, according to university data.
In fall 2016, two freshman dormitories were at 90% and 89% occupancy, but by fall 2017 one fell to 70% while the other rose to 94%.
In fall 2018, the freshman dormitories were at 77% and 92% occupancy.
The decision to require freshman campus residency was not made to assist funding amid ongoing state cuts to the university budget, said Keith Champagne, vice chancellor of student affairs.
“When I proposed this I didn’t see it as a way to address a budget situation,” Champagne said. “I saw it as a way to address an academic success problem and a retention problem.”