Homeless in Groningen: hundreds of international students left to rough it

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. 🤷‍♀️

READ MORE | Student housing in the Netherlands: your guide to finding a room in 2021

Temporary solutions

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

Jen Lorimer 🇿🇼
Jen Lorimer 🇿🇼
An avid tea drinker, Jen was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She moved to Utrecht in 2017 to pursue her history degree. She loves people-watching, canoeing the Utrecht canals, and observing how the Dutch come alive in summer. Having been traumatised by a Dutch circle party, Jen wants to help equip other internationals with tips and tricks to survive and thrive in this wonderful flat country.


  1. I am a possible student of the next course. I see that not only has Brexit been able to increase the number of students in the university, but that it is already a structural evil that comes from behind.
    Indeed the University and the municipality can do much more, but it is easier to be quiet and for the liberal market to regulate itself, the famous invisible hand of Adams Smith, but this does not work, no.
    The solution is to make campus for students with buses that take them to the different universities, with different schedules and that the students pay this additional cost. And stop making housing in containers, that’s not how it works. I come from another EU country, but I see that liberalism does not work and will never work.
    If they make these apartments, the economy will improve, it will create employment in construction, it will create employment in transportation, it will create employment in the maintenance of accommodation, it will create a spiral of employment in supermarkets, and many others.

  2. It not only students who are homeless. I am a regular person and working and can’t find a place to rent, I am also forced to stay at a hostel for €45 a night and I’m not a international. There a serious problem in the Nederland and they have to come to a conclusion faster, because it is not one but many people in the government.


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