Housing shortage for international students

20 Oct 2017

International students are struggling to find rooms. Student union AKKU recently published a report addressing this problem and Vox asked a number of internationals about their struggles.

Medical student David Colmar from Germany has spent the past week in a caravan at campsite De But in the forests of Berg en Dal. ‘I hope we don’t have a cold winter’, he says with a laugh, but the situation is anything but funny. David has to walk 500 metres to the shower every morning, has no heat or running water, and lives off tinned vegetables.’I’m tired all the time and try to stay on campus as long as possible.’

The housing shortage among international students doesn’t make the university look very good. ‘I wouldn’t advise other international students to come study in Nijmegen’, says David. And David’s not alone. James Robertson, an International Business Communication student from Australia, spent six months at an Airbnb because he couldn’t find a room. His classmate James Tabea Struber from Germany spent a month in a hostel and the last three weeks in a bungalow at a caravan park in Groesbeek. But not everyone’s fortunate enough to stay at an Airbnb or a holiday bungalow, as this requires having enough money (or having parents with enough money).

Odd one out
International students are always the odd ones out, which can lead to problems. Lisa, an International Business Administration student from Italy, was regularly told by renters that they don’t rent out rooms to international students. Open houses were out of the question entirely. ‘I was never invited to one,’ she says. And one of Lisa’s international student friends did make it to an open house, but only to be told: ‘I don’t know why we’re speaking English when we’re all Dutch.’

AKKU is committed to representing the interests of all students, including international students. “The situation is okay, but far from perfect,” says Carmen Quint, president of AKKU. “Housing for international students seems to be a blind spot for many organisations,” explains Berend Titulaer, housing coordinator at AKKU. AKKU hopes to find a solution by opening the issue up for discussion and by meeting with parties like SSH& and the International Office.

As for David, he’s hoping he doesn’t have to trade in his medical degree programme for a course in knitting warm jumpers: ‘If I haven’t found a room by winter, I’ll seriously consider quitting my studies because it will be too dangerous to keep on living in a caravan.’

For the international office’s and SSH&’s reaction, see here.

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