The growing number of international students brings back housing shortages
There are no exact numbers yet, but Radboud University suspects that there are way more international students on the campus in Nijmegen this year. The result: mainly international students who have been studying in Nijmegen for a longer time have more trouble finding a room.
This year, the Netherlands attracts more international students than in previous academic years. This is evidenced, for instance, by the figures of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) that were published in de Volkskrant this week. While only 12,310 students from outside the EU applied to study in The Netherlands in ‘covid year’ 2020, 15,110 alone applied until July of this year. That is more requests than ever in this time of the year.
Elco van Noort of the International Office can’t predict if this means that Radboud University will attract a record number of international students this year. He points out that the INS figures are based on the number of Visas that international students have applied for, which may differ from the number of students that are truly headed to the Netherlands, and thus to Nijmegen. ‘We’re expecting more students, but we can’t yet say how many and where they come from,’ he says.
Van Noort partially attributes the expected rise of international students to students who couldn’t go to the Netherlands last year due to Covid, but who now see possibilities for studying in Europe this year. He also points to Brexit, which caused universities in the United Kingdom to ask European students for higher tuition fees. Van Noort: ‘Dutch universities are an appealing alternative for European students, because of their quality, international character and use of the English language.’
‘International newcomers are the most vulnerable to fraud’
The rise of international students is also noticeable in the rest of the Netherlands. There are significant housing shortages in Groningen and Enschede, for example (see insert, ed.). In Nijmegen too, the International Office receives messages from students that cannot find a room.
Radboud University offers international students a furnished room in their first year, via partners such as student housing organization SSH& and private landlords. ‘This group is the most vulnerable to fraud, after all, because these students can’t check if a room is really available from abroad. We also advise them multiple times to start looking for a room on time.’
Radboud University rents more than 800 rooms for international students at the SSH& this way. Due to the smaller number of international students in 2020, Radboud University gave back 190 short-stay rooms to the SSH& for a year, after which they became available for Dutch students. But as of now, all rooms are rented and there is a waiting list of 150 students. ‘But this number varies daily, because we are placing students daily, and new students sign up daily as well,’ says Van Noort.
‘It’s hard to find a room for international students that are in a higher year’
International students who have been studying in Nijmegen for a longer time also notice the business on the student housing market. Vox received multiple messages from students in higher years who had to leave their furnished rooms after one or more years. ‘It seems that it’s harder to find a room for international students that are in a higher year,’ Van Noort confirms. ‘This possibly has to do with the crowding-out effects, because graduates, too, have a hard time finding rooms. We hope that it becomes more normal in Nijmegen for Dutch and internationals to cohabitate in the future.’
Other Dutch universities, too, experience room shortages for international students. The emergency housing facilities for international students without a room at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen are completely full. The organization Shelter our Students (SOS) connects homeless students to Groningers. The University of Twente advices international students to study at another Dutch university, due to the room shortages.