Dozens of students in Nijmegen forced to sleep in hotels or camps

30 Sep 2021

Nijmegen’s precarious housing situation has led to desperate students settling for hotels and campsites. During a round trip, Vox has encountered 24 housing-seeking students who have sought to fix their living situation this way.

The German student Christopher Neuen has been looking for a room since March, but he receives rejection after rejection. This has led to desperate measures. At the beginning of the study year, he was left with no choice but to book a hotel room. ‘That wasn’t exactly what I wanted,’ he says in what feels like an understatement. His stay at Hotel Nimma costs him 175 euros per week. ‘But I didn’t have a choice. I had to follow the lectures at university.’

Housing crisis
It is a well-known problem: because of the housing crisis, finding a room seems almost impossible for new students. Some of them stay at hotels or on campsites out of desperation, as investigations of Vox show. In the twelve hotels and seven campsites Vox contacted, at least 24 students are staying momentarily.

‘There have always been students staying with us, but the numbers are increasing with every year’

International students are the group mainly affected. But Dutch students sometimes book a hotel room as well, tells Dyantha ten Dolle from Guesthouse Vertoef in the city centre of Nijmegen. ‘They stay for the days that they have lectures and go back home afterwards. We currently have a student from North Holland who found it too far to travel back and forth.’

Even though there are no exact numbers, according to hoteliers and campsite owners, the number of students staying has increased for years. According to Nelly Brouwen from the camp De But in the woods near Groesbeek, one can call it a trend. ‘There have always been students staying with us at the beginning of the year, but the numbers are increasing with every year.’

Turned down
Some hotels can’t cope with the number of requests for long-stay rooms. Hotel Nimma, where multiple students are staying at the moment, has to turn down around fifty students a week, according to employee Sanne Hattink. ‘They are asking for long-term rooms, but we often can’t provide that, because there are days when we are completely booked.’

The Nijmegen-based hotel Courage at the Waalkade is considering to rent out rooms to students permanently. ‘We notice an enormous number of requests for our stand-alone rooms. Especially foreign students don’t know what to do,’ says owner Martijn (‘rather no last name’).

‘The costs for traveling between Nijmegen and Bochum are peanuts in comparison to a long-term stay at a hotel’

Hotel guests have to pay a lot for a stay. Most hotels are charging between eighty and one-hundred euros a night per room. Everyone booking for a whole month therefore quickly pays around 2500 euros. And not all hotels are offering a discount for students who want to stay for longer than a few nights.

The German student Christopher Neuen’s stay was still relatively cheap. Nevertheless, he wasn’t able to pay the price for the hotel any longer and decided to commute between Nijmegen and Bochum. ‘That is also quite expensive, but still cheaper than a hotel,’ he says. Now, he has found a room for 500 euros per month. ‘Peanuts in comparison to a long-term hotel stay.’

Three students are momentarily camping at De But in the Groensbeek forest. ‘In a VW-bus, a caravan and a car,’ according to owner Brouwer. ‘Two others have just recently found a room.’

A lot of campsites are closing at the end of October. That is a problem for students who want to stay for longer. ‘They have to leave before the 1st of November,’ says Toon Musters from camping Nederrijkswald in Groesbeek, where three students are currently sleeping in caravans. ‘I’m sometimes asking myself if they will manage to find a room before then.’ In the worst case, the students have to move to a winter campsite in Groesbeek.

Scared away
Not all hotels and campsites in the region are currently housing students. Hotel Credible and Apollo Hotel, both in the city centre, are both stating that no students are staying with them right now. At hotel Van der Valk in Nijmegen-Lent, students have inquired about rooms, but got scared away by the price. ‘Our rooms cost around 140 euros per night,’ says an employee.

Multiple campsites around Groesbeek that want to remain anonymous out of fear for negative reactions state that they reject students. ‘People are coming here to relax,’ says one of them. ‘If we accept students, this aspect is going to be lost.’

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