‘There won’t be any encampments here’

| Jelle Posthuma

Problems with finding housing has led to international students in Groningen sleeping in a tent near the local sports centre, says the Groningen university newspaper. According to the UT, housing problems in Enschede aren’t bigger than usual, despite the growing number of international students.

‘There are desperate students every year,’ says Amir Ametovic, program manager housing. ‘But I don’t think housing problems have increased this year. We’ve had some EEA (European Economic Area, ed.) students at our desk, who really couln’t find a room. We try to help them, for instance by providing them with relevant information, since some of them haven’t heard of the portal Roomspot.’

According to Ametovic, scenes like those in Groningen aren’t likely to happen. ‘I don’t know the Groningen numbers, but Enschede won’t have any tent camps for students. We can’t completely prevent students from going desperate. Every year, some internationals don’t arrange anything before coming here and they expect to get a house key at their arrival in Enschede.’

Groningen

The University of Groningen offers overnight stays in a tent camp, so international students looking for a room can at least have temporary shelter. The costs are €12,50 a night. Another option there is the hotel boat in the Eems canal. A stay, including lunch and dinner, will cost a student €42,50 a night.

Housing guarantee

Inge Boomkamp, program manager internationalization, stresses that the UT policy is aimed at the broad spectrum of internationalization. ‘Help in finding housing is part of this, the same goes for proper and timely admission.’

The UT offers a housing guarantee for students outside the EEA. ‘They’ve all gotten an offer through Roomspot,’ says Ametovic. ‘Students are required to register an account at Roomspot. And this guarantee is only for the first year of their study.’ According to Ametovic, some students come up with more and more demands. ‘I would like to emphasize that it’s just some of them. Last year, we noticed that they found the rooms we offered were too far away from campus or too expensive. When U-Today says the average room rate in Enschede is less than €300, that doesn’t mean that everyone can get a room for that rate.’

Own responsibility

For students within the EEA, the UT has an obligation to at least make an effort. ‘Since the summer of 2017, we try to better inform EEA students. It’s important that they know what to expect from the housing market over here. We advise them to start looking early and to take higher rates into account. We give them information, but it’s their own responsibility to look for a room.’

Besides informing students, the UT tries to increase the number of rooms offered in Enschede. ‘We talk to the municipality and private parties to match supply and demand,’ says Ametovic. ‘We actively provide them with the number of students we expect every year, so the market can respond to the growing numbers.’

Fraudsters

Fraudsters have their ways of taking advantage of the tight housing market for international students. The UT also warns students for scammers, through Facebook. ‘The last few years, there were some cases of students getting scammed,’ says Boomkamp. ‘It happens in every student town. We try to prevent this by informing students.’ Ametovic adds: ‘The UT has a list with reliable providers. If we hear that they have outlandish rates, or in any way manage their business in an unreliable way, we contact them. If they solve the problem, they can stay on our website. If not, we’ll remove them from our reliable list.’