Better housing situation for new students in Enschede

| Jelle Posthuma

Stay home if you don't have a room yet. This was the advice to international students last year. According to UT spokesman Laurens van der Velde, there will be no such advice this year. 'The situation is less problematic.'

A lower student influx provides some relief on the housing market this year, Van der Velde says. Partly due to new numerus fixi, there are fewer bachelor and master students who start their studies at the UT this academic year. Temporary housing also provides extra space. 'There is somewhat more air in the situation,' states the spokesperson. ‘Last year around this time there were 80 rooms on offer, now there are 160. Still, this year there will be students who cannot find a room, or find it difficult.'

Several Dutch universities are forced to proclaim a painful message to (mostly) international students just before the start of the new academic year: don't come if you don't have housing. The UT also communicated a similar statement last year. Due to the improved situation on the Enschede housing market, such an advice will not be issued this year. 'Last year we went just over the limit of what we can accommodate, now we stay just below it. In short, it is less problematic. But the situation on the housing market remains, as in the rest of the Netherlands, unabatedly complicated. That is why it is difficult to predict how things will develop in the coming years.'

Remain critical

Last year, Erasmus Student Network Twente (ESN Twente) started a petition to address the housing crisis' for international students. ESN board member Jasper Asbreuk recognizes the improved situation on the Enschede housing market. 'Indeed, the problem seems to be less severe this year. I don't know exactly why. Maybe it has to do with the container houses. In any case, it is positive that our petition has had an impact.'

According to Asbreuk, however, there are enough reasons to remain critical towards the Enschede housing market. ‘This year there are again many scammers active on the market. International students are particularly vulnerable to this. As ESN we will therefore offer a checklist, so students can better arm themselves against these scammers. Starting in September, we also want to offer a service where members of ESN will visit a house for students who cannot come to the Netherlands themselves. A viewing is often the best way to avoid scams.’

In addition, ESN Twente is working on a rating system of Enschede housing providers, Asbreuk says. 'Rents have gone up again this year, despite the improved supply. With the 'review system' we want to give students the opportunity to compare providers. Is it a good landlord, is it a fair price? Those kinds of questions. We want to ensure more transparency about the housing market. Students should know what they are getting into when they rent a place in Enschede.’