Monday 03 August 2020

Dutch universities urged to act on foreign student housing crisis

Students in the Netherlands sometimes live in converted shipping containers.

Foreign students attending Dutch universities and hbo colleges are being forced to sleep on campsites, in hotels and even in cars because of the shortage of accommodation for them, national student union LSVB says.

‘Universities have actively recruited the students who have nowhere to live. They need to take responsibility and find a solution,’ Tariq Swebaransingh, chairman of the LSVB, said in a website statement.

‘Like their Dutch peers, many of them have been looking for somewhere to live for months,’ he said.’One British student slept on the sofa at our offices… but has finally decided to go back home because he had not found anywhere to live in four months.’

The organisation has opened a hotline where students can report their problems. One French student told the hotline she had lived in a flat via Airbnb for a month and then moved to a hostel. Unable to afford it any longer, she too has returned to France.

An additional problem, the Volkskrant said, is that many student houses don’t want to open their doors to international students. They argue that international students are not in the country for long enough to build up close ties.

The situation is so acute in Groningen that the city council has reopened a refugee centre where students can sleep for €16 a night.

Some 112,000 foreign students were studying in the Netherlands in the previous academic year, many of them part-time through the Erasmus programme. Unless they are willing to take action on the housing crisis, universities should stop trying to bring in foreign students on ‘false pretexts’, Sewbaransingh said.

Are you a foreign student with problems finding a house? Share your experiences below.

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