In recent weeks, the UT has received various signals about the housing crisis, especially among international students. For example, ESN Twente started a petition to raise attention for the issue. In response, the university reached out to all international students from the EU, who will start their studies this year, and asked them whether they already found a place to live. ‘It turned out that more than a quarter have no housing yet,’ says spokesperson Laurens van der Velde. ‘That's hundreds of students.’
That is why the UT has sent out a letter, advising new students to reconsider their enrollment at the university. This concerns both bachelor and master students. ‘In recent years, the housing problem has always been solved during the academic year, for example by students dropping out of school. This year, however, the group is so large, and there are so many problems on the Dutch housing market, that we do not expect a solution immediately. So something needs to be done on the influx side.’
It is particularly international students from the EU who are struggling with the housing crisis. Non-EU students receive a one-year housing guarantee from the UT. Dutch students are also finding it difficult to find a room this year, says Van der Velde. ‘But many Dutch students can still travel from home for the first few months. That is why our letter with the advice is specifically addressed to international students from the EU.'
The university gives the advice with a heavy heart, says Van der Velde. ‘But it's honest and realistic advice. We must prevent students from coming to Twente on 1 September with a suitcase and one night booked in a hotel. That is why we issue this warning.’
Last week there was still talk of setting up tent camps as possible temporary housing. This is not going to happen, informs Van der Velde. ‘What the UT can do in the field of housing is limited. We are obliged to devote our resources to education. Moreover: the solutions aren’t exactly lying on the street. We can't just reserve fifty houses somewhere.’
The question arises: should the UT have allowed these students to enroll? The university cannot refuse students, Van der Velde responds. ‘If students meet the conditions, they can enroll at the UT. And the UT is an attractive university for international students, as it turns out. But we also know how drastic this advice is.’
Offering fully digital education for students without accommodation is not an option, says the spokesperson. ‘The students without housing are fragmented across all study programmes. Offering a double program – in which students can follow both online and offline education – is unfeasible. That would have too far-reaching consequences for the entire education at the UT.'