Monday 18 October 2021

Student housing shortfall rises 20% as more international students come to NL

Signs in English on the University of Twente campus. Photo: DutchNews.nl

The shortage of student housing rose 20% over the past year and there is now a shortfall of 26,500 units, according to expertise centre Kences in its latest update.

With student numbers set to increase by 57,000 in the coming years, the shortage is only going to get worse, Kences said. Just 16,500 new units are being developed up to 2025.

The shortage of housing is mainly due to the increase in the number of international students. ‘Foreign students had to follow their degree courses at home last year because of coronavirus but they are now here for physical lessons,’ spokesman Jos Bakker told broadcaster NOS. ‘On top of that, this year we have a new intake.’

High rents are an additional problem. Students are now spending almost half their income on rent, and this would have been even higher if the government had not frozen rents in the social housing sector because of coronavirus, Kences said.

The trend towards building studios, rather than shared housing units, is an additional problem. They may be more lucrative for developers and investors, but they contribute to loneliness and isolation among the student body, according to Kences chairman Jolan de Bie.

Particular problems

Foreign students face particular problems in finding a place to live because they usually have no network and universities are not required by law to house them.

In September, some 600 foreign students contacted Groningen volunteer organisation Shelter our Students, which tries to find temporary accommodation and lodgings for them.

The University of Twente even went so far as to recommend foreign students did not come because of the shortage of places to live.

The annual search for student accommodation is being made worse by the fact that foreign students are not welcome in many Dutch student houses. Vacant rooms are often advertised on Facebook and specialist housing sites with the proviso ‘no internationals’ and ‘Dutch only’, even though this may break anti-discrimination laws.

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