Utrecht Univ.: International students without housing should reconsider plans
Despite a push to increase available student housing, Utrecht University thinks new international students should consider other options if they cannot secure a room before the start of the next academic year. The university said it wants students to be proactive and avoid the panic that comes when students find themselves in the middle of the Dutch housing shortage.
The university points out that students without a room can wind up couch surfing, or dropping large amounts of cash on hotel rooms. The problem usually clears up after a few weeks, but can sometimes take months as international students make acquaintances and discover commuter-friendly options.
"But it is not what we wish for our students. Therefore, in this summer, we will explicitly advise new international students to reconsider their enrollment at UU if they have not found accommodation,” states Lenn Lamkin, the university’s student life and mobility advisor. It is a difficult choice, he adds, “because international talent is important for our research and education. But we really don't want people to underestimate the situation and end up in difficult situations."
Some 26,500 university students had trouble finding a place to stay at the start of the academic year, an increase of over 20 percent in a single year. The problem is expected to get worse over the next eight years, though the student housing supply could increase by 2025. "Even if all these student residences are built, the shortage of sudent housing will rise sharply," said Jolan de Bie, the director of thinktank Kences, back in October.
Utrecht University says it made strides to increase student housing in the area. It already has 950 rooms reserved for international students, and will consider another 200 rooms as temporary emergency housing for students arriving from abroad. It also has an agreement to house 75 internationals temporarily at a local hostel while they search. However, the university welcomed a total of 37,000 students this year, including about 5,000 from other countries. Simply put, “There are too few rooms,” Lamkin says, and the university should not be thought of as a housing provider.
"It is difficult to increase the number, because the rooms are simply not there in Utrecht, and UU cannot reserve all rooms in newly available projects for international students, because Dutch students also want to live."
Utrecht University wants another 4,000 living spaces for students built at the Utrecht Science Park. Nine hundred of them could be ready by 2025. "We are not allowed to build and operate housing," Lamkin says. "We do have a covenant with the municipality, housing providers and student organisations to increase the number of rooms in Utrecht in the coming years.”