Student unions warn: Housing shortage means internationals face homelessness
Students hoping to study in the Netherlands in the autumn have been issued a stark warning by various Dutch universities and student unions, as the student housing crisis continues and thousands of international students face homelessness.
Dutch universities ask students to stay away
The shortage of student housing is an issue a number of Dutch cities have faced for years, and one that has only worsened after the coronavirus pandemic resulted in thousands of students deferring their studies for a year. The situation came to a head last autumn, when hundreds of students started the academic year without accommodation and figures revealed the country was short over 26.000 homes.
One year on, it seems as though little progress has been made, as the situation remains dire across various student cities. This week, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) sent an email out to students living abroad informing them that if they were unable to find accommodation by August 15, they should postpone their move to the Dutch capital.
“Since we are now reaching the end of the housing allocation process, it has become clear that your ranking on the waiting list will not lead to a room offer,” UvA’s accommodation services are reported to have written. “Because we cannot assist you, we will cancel your housing application.” Universities in Utrecht, Maastricht, and Groningen have made similar requests, asking students to avoid the cities unless they have secured housing.
International students face homelessness and extortionate rents
ASVA, the union representing students in Amsterdam, has raised concerns about the growing shortage of student accommodation, warning that a number of international students hoping to study in the city will either face homelessness or be required to pay extortionate rents in order to secure a room in time for the start of their course.
"We still have 2.300 internationals who don't have a room yet and still have to look for them," ASVA’s Job Vermaas told AT5. "That means that they run an enormous risk of exploitation or homelessness, and then we say: that is not possible.” Both ASVA and SRVU - the union representing students at VU Amsterdam - have echoed UvA’s message, calling on students not to move to the Dutch capital in the autumn if they haven't found accommodation.
ASVA and SRVU are asking the Dutch government and higher education institutions to enforce a stricter policy for the admission of international students. “What we want is to limit the number of English-taught studies that are offered, so that fewer foreign students will register,” Vermaas says. “Something has to be done now. They are still recruiting students from abroad for economics and business studies. That is really not possible with this housing crisis."