City council wants more housing for international students

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The city of Utrecht is asking real estate developers to make a part of new student housing available to international students.

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That’s the message of a letter by councilman Paulus Jansen to the city council, in which the progress of the ‘Action Plan Student Housing’ is chronicled. The goal of the Action Plan, which was started in 2014, is improving the student housing situation in Utrecht. That means international students, too.

The number of international students in Utrecht is growing fast. In the past eight years, the number of international students in Utrecht grew by 5 percent, whereas in academic year 16-17 this grew by 13.2 percent. As a result, it’s harder and harder for international students to find housing. Last summer, student associations Vidius and International Student Houssing Assistance (ISHA) both pled for attention to this cause by organizing special actions.

The city says they’ll proactively look for additional living space for international students. The city will, for example, talk with real estate developers to ensure that newly developed student housing is also accessible to international students. Additionally, the city is looking for options for temporary housing in buildings that are currently unoccupied.

Utrecht University acknowledges the problem. In the past months, a special taskforce was launched with the goal of helping international students find housing. Results include deals made with several housing organizations for additional available rooms.

For example, they’ve made a deal with student housing complex Holland2Stay, at the Vliegend Hertlaan, to reserve more rooms for international students. Due to the high rent and the fact that many students are too young to qualify for rent subsidies, the complex is only housing 45 students at the moment, desite the fact that there’s room for 100 to 150 students.

The university has also increased the information available to international students. Tips, pitfalls, rules and regulations, vocabulary lists, emails and additional support through – among others – Housing Support Officers are meant to ensure the students gain better insight into the Dutch housing market.

The city council and the university had already made a deal with housing corporation SSH in 2016, to house international students in buildings that usually only house Dutch students. Now, there’s exactly one dorm where the ratio is fifty-fity. In December, a second dorm was added to that. Earlie this year, a test was launched with interviewing for rooms from a distance, for a house where, this month, eight international students will live.

 

Vertaling: Indra Spronk

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