Also hundreds of Enschede’s international students have no place to live
Some 400 to 500 international students in Enschede currently have no place to live, even though the academic year has already started. According to Anne Graef, policy advisor to the municipality, this is the first time that the city has faced such a severe shortage of student housing. It is unknown how many students from the Netherlands also cannot find a home in Enschede.
The municipality is working on emergency shelter, but it will not be ready until October, according to Graef. Neither the municipality, the housing cooperatives nor the educational institutions knows where the students will stay until then. "We suspect that they are staying with acquaintances, for example, but we have little insight into it," says Graef.
The rising number of international students came unexpectedly for the municipality this year. "We always have to wait and see how many of the students who have registered in advance for a study program actually start a study." This year, some of the students who continued to live at home last year due to the coronavirus crisis will also come to the city.
"Dozens of students" have now been found temporary shelter with the help of private individuals, but the exact location of the majority is indeed unknown, according to a spokesperson for the University of Twente. He thinks that some students may not have traveled to Enschede just yet. The number of students who deregistered is “small”, the spokesperson said.
Other student cities are also struggling with a housing shortage. The municipality of Groningen has about 300 emergency shelter spots available, of which "a portion" is full, according to a spokesperson. "Every year we see a peak during the intake of students, especially international students. This year it is more than usual."
Emergency shelter is available until mid-October. It is not yet clear what should happen if students have not found anything by then. "We'll look at it further then."
The Groningen student action group Shelter Our Students has also arranged emergency shelter for students, about 170 places. "Normally we see that the housing shortage has been reasonably resolved at the end of October," said a club spokesperson. "But this year the numbers are higher and the transfer has not yet begun. We are already hearing the first stories of students who are returning to their country of origin because they cannot find a room."
According to the National Student Union (LSVb), "sky-high rent" is also a problem. It accused slumlords of taking advantage of the housing shortage by charging high rent for poor-quality housing. The LSVb, together with left wing political parties PvdA and GroenLinks, is appealing to Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren to tackle the shortage of student housing.
Reporting by ANP.