University of Amsterdam urging international students without housing not to come to NL
Amsterdam is facing a severe housing shortage for students to the extent that the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is urging international students not to come to the Dutch capital if they haven’t found housing. A spokesperson for the university told NL Times that an email was sent to international students on its housing waiting list telling them that they should reconsider their plans to come to Amsterdam if they have not found a room by mid-August.
The email was sent because the university’s accommodation request list is heavily oversubscribed. Students can find themselves in a tense position when arriving in Amsterdam without a place to stay amid the ongoing housing crisis. The university expects housing to continue to be problematic headed into the next academic year. The spokesperson noted that the appeal to new international students without housing it is in line with what other universities in the Netherlands are doing. Last month, Utrecht University made a similar appeal.
The UvA has been trying to set a limit for the number of international students it can accept for some time. The current national policy does not allow the university to put limits on many courses of study because of European Union rules allowing students who are citizens of EU member states to largely travel and study freely within the EU, the UvA told NL Times. “Two years ago, we already submitted a proposed law change to the Minister. When the previous Cabinet resigned, the decision was not made. We are now waiting for a decision from the new Cabinet,” a spokesperson said to AT5.
According to the Amsterdam student union ASVA, 4,720 international students registered for accommodation, but the University only has 2,416 rooms available. So 2,304 international students are still looking for accommodation.
“Our mailbox is full of questions from desperate students who we can’t even refer to a hostel,” Job Vermaas of ASVA said to the Amsterdam broadcaster AT5. “If this continues, we will be heading for a shortage of 10,000 rooms in September, which is really unsustainable.” Last September, the UvA was 6,600 rooms short.
“The national government does need to do more, but the UvA can also do something about it, such as eliminating some of the English language tracks,” said Vermaas, the board member in charge of housing issues for ASVA. He told NL Times that addressing this will naturally reduce the number of international students who register at the university. This will then mean fewer people will arrive in Amsterdam from abroad with no housing prospects, and where they are then put in a position where bad landlords will exploit them.
“I don’t think this is realistic, but I would want the UvA to take responsibility for sourcing housing for all international students, but that would take a lot of money to do that.” Vermaas continued, saying, “We need to address the problem at the core, which is the downsizing of English-language programs.”
The university’s spokesperson told NL Times that it does not want to limit the number of English-language programs that the UvA offers, but it thinks imposing a limit on the number of students allowed to enroll is a more appropriate response. “We agree with ASVA’s concerns, and we have been pushing the government for some time to allow us to do something about it,” the spokesperson said.
Earlier on Thursday, the national student union LSVb also sounded the alarm about the student housing shortage in the Netherlands. According to the union, far more students have registered with Dutch educational institutions than there is accommodation available, even including peak shelters in which students have just a bed to sleep in while accommodation is sought.