Hundreds of international students have arrived in Groningen to start their studies — with the added challenge of being homeless.
The volunteer organisation, Shelter Our Students is trying to help these newbies find temporary accommodation but it’s proving to be difficult.
As if moving to a new city and starting a new life alongside studying full-time isn’t hard enough already, hundreds of happy-go-lucky international students are doing all this whilst frantically trying to find a place with a bed and a desk they can call their own, reports The NOS.
International students in Groningen — and, who are we kidding, the rest of the Netherlands — struggle to find accommodation every year. However, Marinus Jongman from Shelter Our Students says that “it is worse than ever this year.”
Why aren’t there enough places for international students?
According to Jongman, “the housing market is completely locked up, so graduates aren’t moving on to starter homes.” Clearly, these astronomical housing prices and of course, the chronic shortage is having a knock-on effect.
In addition, more and more students are choosing to study in Groningen. In 2018, the university had 30,000 students. Now, just three years later the university has 36,000 students. The city and university don’t seem to be keeping pace with this growth.
Discrimination in the rental market
On top of that, Jongman says that international students often become homeless because of discrimination in the market for rental houses and student rooms — his words, not mine. We’ve all seen those “NO INTERNATIONAL” “DUTCH-SPEAKING ONLY” posts.
Foreign students find themselves in a Catch-22 situation: student houses don’t want internationals, and apartments that are open to internationals don’t want students. 🤷♀️
An emergency shelter has been set up for these homeless students in Groningen. However, it only has 240 spaces and is already full. 🥵 Many students are also having to stay in hostels which cost around €25 per night — definitely not student budget-friendly.
So far about 600 international students have registered with Shelter Our Students to be placed with temporary hosts. Emphasis on the word temporary. Jongman says that this number is increasing by about 30-40 per day.
What are your thoughts on this crisis of homeless students? Should the universities and municipalities do more?
Feature Image: Resi Kling/Unsplash