UBRCs offer senior citizens opportunities for academic enrichment. Source: Shutterstock

Will university-based retirement communities (UBRCs) become the new norm across university campuses in the US and the world? 

UBRCs vary from one provider to the next, but they typically offer senior citizens a chance to live on or near campus and have access to classes and activities that students do. 

They provide senior citizens with an engaging alternative to living in traditional retirement homes, with some offering independent and assisted living options, among others.

UBRCs can serve as a mutually beneficial relationship between senior citizens and higher education institutions, with the latter under increasing pressure to find new streams of revenue amidst declining birth rates that will affect future student enrolment rates, as well as funding cuts, among a host of other factors. 

Meanwhile, senior citizens can benefit from intergenerational living which gives them more opportunities to interact with young adults while enjoying opportunities for academic enrichment and lifelong learning on campus.

More UBRCs in the offing?


University-based retirement communities provide senior citizens with a platform for continuous learning and a chance to mingle with young adults and professors. Source: Shutterstock

Reports note that UBRCs may not be a new concept, but they appear to be growing in popularity in recent years and may be developed in partnership with private developers. For instance, Lasell University in Massachusetts is reportedly among the pioneers in building on-campus senior communities. 

Lasell Village has an average of 225 residents in its independent living apartments, provides supported living, short-term rehabilitation services and long-term skilled care, as well as in-home healthcare within a college setting. They’ve established a specified learning plan to enrol in as a condition of residency.

Arizona State University’s (ASU) Mirabella project – a 20-storey housing complex for senior citizens – is already sold out, ahead of its completion date in 2020. ASU notes that the building will include 252 independent-living apartments and 52 healthcare units, as well as an indoor pool, theatre, art museum, spa, dog park and restaurants. 

The project will link the university community to the senior residents, who will be able to take classes, have access to the library and be near cultural and sports events.

Over in New York City, Rivers Run offers senior citizens pet-friendly cottages for sale and is a collaboration with the Rochester Institute of Technology. Residents can attend lectures, use the library and participate in campus life. They have a monthly homeowner’s fee of US$340 per unit.

The Wall Street Journal notes that others are in the offing; Legacy Pointe will have 296 retirement homes and is affiliated with the University of Central Florida. It is located off-campus, but residents can still enjoy attending lecture series, college classes and other intellectually stimulating programmes at the community and UCF campus, notes its website.

While UBRCs offer residents social and academic stimulation, they can also come with a hefty price tag. 

WSJ notes that State University of New York’s Purchase College (SUNY Purchase) aims to begin construction next year on a 40-acre on-campus senior-living development with 220 homes priced at up to US$1.9 million for a two-bedroom villa, in addition to monthly charges that run between US$3,300 and US$10,000. 

They note that most of the original sale price is refunded when residents leave. 

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