Wednesday 22 March 2023

Don’t come unless you have a place to live, universities warn international students


Several Dutch universities are warning international students not to come to the Netherlands unless they have organised somewhere to live before they arrive, the Volkskrant reported on Wednesday.

The universities of Maastricht and Utrecht and Groningen’s HBO college are all recommending students avoid their courses unless they have organised a place to live over the summer, while Delft and Erasmus are sending out similar signals, the VK said.

Last October, student housing monitor Kences said the Netherlands needed 26,500 more student rooms. In Amsterdam alone, the shortfall is put at 5,200.

The rise in the number of international students, who don’t have a network or family to fall back on, has also had a role. International students now account for some 14% of the student body.

In addition, many Dutch students do not want to share their homes with foreign students and the ‘no internationals’ message on online housing websites is a common frustration. Many cities, such as Amsterdam, have also introduced new rules for landlords with prevent house sharing.

Reduce numbers

The Dutch universities association has campaigned since 2018 for new rules which they say would allow them to manage the flow of international students and the impact on course quality.

‘International talent is essential’ for both research and industry but the increase in the number of foreign students is currently too great to maintain the high quality of courses and is putting too much pressure on staff, chairman Pieter Duisenberg said earlier this year.

The organisation suggests three measures to reduce the flow of international students: introducing a limit on student numbers in English language courses, limiting the number of non-EU students per course and an emergency brake so that numbers can be capped if applications rise too hard and threaten course quality.


Ama Boahene, chairwoman of student union LSVB has welcomed the universities move, saying this is something the union has warned about for some time. ‘We would rather that the warning was not needed, but at least students can decide themselves whether or not it is worth making the trip without a place to live,’ she told the paper.

Boahene told the VK that universities could also re-examine the type of courses they offer in English. ‘It would be necessary for an international subject, but you can ask what the reason is to study history in English,’ she said.

Education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf told MPs on Monday that he is currently researching ways of better managing the flow of international students and that pending legislation, which only needed senate approval, has been put on hold.

Almost three-quarters of the foreign student body is made up of students from elsewhere in the EU.

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