Student housing crisis continues as new university year starts

New students in Leiden gather for the El Cid freshers week. Photo: Brandon Hartley

The shortage of student housing in the Netherlands has now reached over 27,000 units, the Telegraaf said on Friday. At the same time, however, more students are looking for a place to live and there are fewer privately-owned rooms on the market.

The reintroduction of small student grants this year has led to an increase in the number of youngsters looking to move away from home to go to college or university, student housing body Duwo told the paper.

In Amsterdam it now takes an average of three years on the waiting list to be allocated an official student room, a rise of over six months on a year ago. In Utrecht the waiting list is 38 months and Groningen is warning students the wait could be more than five years in some cases, the paper reported.

“It is completely out of hand,” said Elisa Weehuizen, of student union LSVB. “In some cases you are only entitled to a room once you have finished your bachelor or master’s degree.”

Renting rooms in a shared house is another option but that too is becoming more difficult because of new tax rules which are leading some landlords to sell their properties. The ban on sharing with more than three people in some cities is another issue.

In all, the price of rooms on offer via website Kamernet has gone up 8% this year, the agency said. The average room in a shared house now costs €715 per month. 

Foreign students face a particularly uphill struggle to find a place to live and last year universities warned them not to come unless they were certain of a place to live. Some universities have repeated that warning to students this year.

Websites such as Kamernet are full of adverts stating “no internationals” or “Dutch only”, which is not, according to lawyers, technically illegal in all situations. An LSVB survey in 2021 found 57% of foreign students had been confronted by “no internationals” in their search for a place to live. 

Student fraternities and sororities have their own accommodation too, but this is usually out of reach to foreign students as well.

Taiwan student Stanford Chen told the Parool he was paying €1,200 for a studio, which he found via a private agency. “It is expensive, yes, but I need it. A friend of mine wanted to study here too but he could not find anywhere to live so he cancelled his university place.”

Paying guests

Amsterdam city council has launched an appeal for people with a spare room in their own home to consider renting it out to a student. But that too requires formalities such as a contract. Agency Hospi Housing told the Parool that earlier this summer it had 2,400 students on its books but just 40 potential landlords. 

The outgoing cabinet had drawn up a plan to create 60,000 new student rooms by 2030 but it is unclear how many of them will actually be realised, given the nitrogen-pollution crisis and the general election in November. 

Foreign students

The outgoing government has pledged to reduce the number of foreign students coming to the Netherlands with a string of measures, including a boost for Dutch language courses following appeals from universities.

Nevertheless, the Dutch immigration service IND said this week that it had recorded an increase in the number of non-EU and Efta students applying for a visa to study at a Dutch college or university. By the end of July, 17,870 non-EU students had applied for a visa, up 1,200 on the same period in 2022.

Are you an international student in the Netherlands and would you like to share your housing story? Feel free to get in touch via

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