Student accommodation: an unwinnable battle?

| HOP, Josefine van Enk

Universities are free to enrol large numbers of students, but where will they all live? Minister of Housing Hugo de Jonge wants to better match their intake with the amount of available accommodation.

Last Tuesday, MPs debated the national housing shortage with De Jonge. The discussion also touched upon student accommodation. Especially at the start of the academic year, students often end up living on campsites rather than in proper housing. A problem that only seems to have worsened in recent years, due to the increasing number of international students.

Dirty kitchen

The MPs came up with a variety of ideas. D66 claimed that temporary accommodation could offer short-term relief. Why not build American-style campuses, suggested Groep Van Haga. And ChristenUnie would rather see ‘real student digs with a fun, shared living room and a kitchen that’s just a bit too dirty’ than studios where loneliness is a danger.

But is building more housing not just fighting an unwinnable battle? ‘If a university accepts a huge number of students, that’s bound to cause an accommodation problem,’ said De Jonge. He believes that ‘the number of students taken on by universities and their housing options need to be better matched’.

Admissions freeze

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science confirms that it is in talks with De Jonge about solutions for the issue and that ‘they will take into account the growing number of students.’ But that does not mean that there will be an admissions freeze due to the lack of housing. ‘That’s not doable.’

The universities want to be able to slow down the influx of international students, but that will take some time. Umbrella organisation UNL says that in the meantime it is appealing to local authorities to create more student accommodation.