Housing assistance policy for international students about to change
International student housing has long been a point of debate at Radboud University. Now, strategies surrounding international housing assistance are about to change – and limit the international students who can apply for housing help. ‘We have to make choices.’
With the end of this study year, Radboud University has announced several changes in its housing assistance policy. According to a university spokesperson, as of 2024-2025, bachelor students following a three-year degree will not receive support from the university in finding housing anymore. Presently, many, mostly international, bachelor students qualify for housing assistance.
According to the spokesperson, from 2024-2025 onwards, the university will offer housing assistance to students only for the entirety of their degree at Radboud University: including periods of 6 months, one year, or two years. Under the new policy, only exchange and master students will therefore be eligible for assistance. ‘Due to the limited supply, we have to make choices,’ so the spokesperson.
While first-year bachelor students will continue to receive housing assistance for the upcoming study year, some of the changes will already go into effect. According to a spokesperson of the housing organization SSH&, from the study year 2023-2024 onward, students qualifying for housing assistance who come to Radboud for a two-year master’s degree will already be offered a contract for a fixed period of two years. Previously, housing contracts had been signed for either six months or a year only.
These so-called short- or fixed-term housing contracts have recently been a hot topic of Tweede Kamer discussions. Members of the opposition parties PvdA and ChristenUnie have introduced a notion to limit the contracts, arguing that they have contributed to insecurity and high costs for renters. Should the new law be passed by the Eerste Kamer, however, little is about to change for students renting with SSH&, according to the spokesperson.
‘This new policy raises fundamental questions about what the university actually stands for’
‘There are possibilities for housing associations to enter into temporary agreements with tenants, as is currently the case,’ according to SSH&. If the contracts should be forbidden in the future, a lot of the contracts given to students will therefore be considered an exception.
In the past, the contracts, which are mainly given to students who qualify for housing assistance from the university, have been criticised for leaving students inflexible when it comes to finding new housing after the expiration of the contract: because the contracts do not allow for a monthly cancellation, students are often unable to find new housing before their contracts expire, leaving some students homeless.
The change in the housing assistance policy has since been sharply criticised by some members of the university. ‘In the last decades, there has been greatly invested in a global campus,’ writes assistant professor Dorian Schaap in an opinion piece, earlier published in Vox. ‘With a stroke of the pen, this [global] vision is now abandoned.’
For Schaap, this new policy ‘raises fundamental questions about what the university actually stands for.’ Whether and how enrolment numbers of international students at Radboud will be affected by the changing policy is still unclear.