‘International student in caravan is an incident’
Student union AKKU is worried about the housing shortage among international students. They want to speak to the International Office and the SSH&, but according to those organisations, students in caravans, hostels and Airbnb's are merely incidents.
German medicine student David Colmar is staying in a caravan. Vox spoke to him and other students this week, about their tough search for a room. ‘Incidents’, says Wessel Meijer, head of the International Office. ‘All internationals students who have applied with us on time, have been housed. This concerns exactly 1015 students this year.’
According to Meijer, David Colmar is not in the International Office’s system. ‘So he has never come forward. And all the other students in the article did not ask for help until after the deadline. We have made them an offer, but they either refused or have not responded yet. Of course it is very unfortunate that there are incidental problems, but Nijmegen does not have big problems in housing international students.’
Nevertheless, AKKU is worried. The student union works on a report in which they explain the problems concerning housing. Kences, the umbrella organisation of student housers, and The Class of 2020, a European think tank in the field of internationalisation and student housing, share AKKU’s opinion and ask for attention for the same problem in a letter to the House of Representatives.
At the moment, around fifteen international students are on the waiting list for a room, says Meijer. Eleven of them have refused the international office’s offer. The other four have applied too late. They can expect an offer soon.
Meijer acknowledges the problems international students face. ‘On the day of arrival, they should have a furnished room already. Applying for rooms from abroad is hard, and they don’t have the option of staying with their parents for a while.’ Still, he expects no problems in Nijmegen. ‘We are doing well. Especially in comparison to the bigger cities, many international students have more problems with finding a room there.’
Vincent Buitenhuis, manager strategy and living at the SSH&, endorses Meijers views. ‘The housing for international students in Nijmegen is well-arranged. Through the Book your room system, new international students can easily book a room for the first year from abroad. All newly registered international students receive an e-mail. From then on, it is their own responsibility.’
Growth international students
Buitenhuis is not very worried about the future. According to him, internationalisation has been high on the agenda for a long time. ‘That is why there will be sixty new rooms at the Boeckstaetehof, especially for international students. With the fast growth of the number of international students, we have to make sure there is enough place for everybody. But we are prepared.’