Especially in international groups on Facebook, it has been restless for weeks, because for the majority of students from the EU it is practically impossible to get a room, studio or flat. When on Wednesday - a week before the Kick-In - a letter from the UT arrived with the message to reconsider the study in Twente, many prospective students were up in arms.
For Radu Gherman (19, photo left), for example. The Romanian had been dreaming of studying in Twente for years. He rejected the universities of Cluj and Eindhoven. Enschede, that had to be it. He started his house hunt in May, but uncertainty grew by the week. 'So I decided to start my studies from a hotel. I booked a hotel room and a plane ticket last week, but then the UT advised me against coming on Wednesday. I still can't believe it.'
Gherman wanted to start the bachelor Business Information Technology, but decided against it. 'All my positive thoughts about the UT and education in the Netherlands have disappeared. I thought this was a country with high standards. The most annoying thing is that I am now forced to take a gap year, which I can't get back. I can't go to other universities now.'
All my positive thoughts about the UT and education in the Netherlands have disappeared. I thought this was a country with high standards.
Kamen Zhelyazkov (18, photo right) will still try in Enschede. The Bulgarian wants to see how things go from a hotel room for a month, 'but if the situation does not improve, I will have to return to Bulgaria after all. Since I already invested hundreds of euros in this study, that would be a real bummer', he says.
Sleeping in a car
He knows that a hotel room is no solution in the long run. Besides, it is unaffordable. Yet studying in Twente - the bachelor Technical Computer Science - is what he wants. 'Even if I have to sleep in a car temporarily. I started looking for a room in July. In the first week I was close, so I was hopeful, but soon I noticed that I was far from being the only one with a room requirement.
I don't even have a ticket back to Lithuania, so if nothing changes by the weekend I'll be homeless.
He understands that many Dutch students would like to have fellow countrymen as their roommates. 'I don't blame them either, but it is ridiculous that there are not more opportunities for international students. I keep hoping for luck and find support among fellow sufferers.'
Aleksandra Bekerytė (18, photo left), one of those fellow-sufferers, can also use some support. She is staying in a hotel in Enschede and her budget does not allow her to stay there for two more nights. 'And I don't even have a ticket back to Lithuania, so if nothing changes by the weekend I'll be homeless.'
The student has been looking for accommodation since June, but does not expect to be able to start her Bachelor's degree in psychology. 'The letter I received on Wednesday felt mean. For years I was looking forward to my time in the Netherlands, but now I have lost everything.'
Bekerytė hopes that she will be able to stay temporarily with other students in the near future. Unless a miracle happens, she will stop studying in Twente before it actually starts. Despite the sad circumstances, she blames no one for the acute problem. 'It's not the UT's responsibility to provide accommodation, but then don't take on so many international students. That could have prevented a lot of misery.'
The UT has noticed that Wednesday's letter stirred up a lot of emotions. Spokesperson Laurens van der Velde: 'In the e-mail we expressed how much we regret this situation. We know what studying in Enschede means to some students. They want to come here and we would love to have them here, but there is no solution in the short term to make that happen.'
People who wanted to help approached the UT in recent days. 'Someone could help with the installation of a unit, but that would take four months. In the short term, we can only postpone the problem, not solve it. If anyone has living space, our advice is to offer it through the usual channels like Kamernet.'
It is not yet known if and how many cancellations the UT has received from EU students.