Issues with international housing

| Michaela Nesvarova

Finding a suitable accommodation near the UT is often problematic for international students. They usually don´t speak Dutch, they come from different continents and completely different cultures and they often need to travel. To find a person, who is willing to rent to them, is therefore extremely difficult. According to students, this situation is not made easier by the university, which provides internationals with maximum of one year of accommodation.

Photo by: Gijs van Ouwerkerk

Since the summer 2012 the International Office of the University of Twente mediates accommodation for students or employees for the maximum period of one year. This represents a problem for many international students, especially PhD researchers, who often need to travel back and forth between their home country and Enschede and are on a budget.

4 years of study, only 1 year of accommodation

'There are many problems with housing for internationals,' says Cesar Casiano Flores, a PhD researcher from Mexico. 'The main issue is that we can get maximum one year of accommodation arranged by the university. That is very complicated for us, because our studies last about 4 years and we need to travel a lot, so we can´t rent a normal apartment. Who would rent us a furnished apartment for only a few months? After using up our one year of accommodation, we are banned from getting more, even though we pay for it ourselves.'

According to information provided by the International Office, this 'one year rule' has been enacted for capacity reasons and it applies to all UT students and employees, who are staying in Enschede for study related reasons. The offer of arranging accommodation for one year exists to ease the process of finding accommodation at the very start of the study. After the person uses up his one year - which can also be divided into several shorter periods - the university doesn´t help in finding any other accommodation. Internationals, of course, understand that the university has only a limited amount of available apartments and resources, but they often don´t have anywhere else to turn.

'It´s not just about a place to sleep'

'We were told that we have the right to rent a room at the campus for maximum of one year. We can split this period up, but after you use up one year, it´s a problem. Nobody will rent you a furnished room for only a few weeks or months. We pay rent, we never get anything for free, but we still can´t get accommodation,' explains Shaheen Abdulkareem, a PhD student from Iraq.

Shaheen Abdulkareem also points to other issues that internationals have to deal with: 'Because of current issues with refugees it is especially hard for me - a woman from Iraq - to find another accommodation. I study here, I need to come to the UT at least twice a year for a minimum of two months each time. Last year, I stayed here for 11 months in total, so I only have one month of allowed accommodation left. Where will I live? I´m in my second year of PhD. I still have two and a half years left. You can´t just stay with friends. And it´s not just about a place to sleep. I feel much safer at the campus. There are many nationalities here, people are open towards internationals. But if I live somewhere else, especially now, how will my neighbors react?'

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