In September a new group of international students will start their studies at the EUR. But, will there be enough accommodation?
Last September it became painfully clear that the number of international students had exceeded the number of available places for them to live. Students ended up in the infamous caravans; others had to stay with friends or live in hostels. There was outrage and different parties pointed their fingers at each other. One thing is for sure: The EUR cannot afford this and the question is, will we see a similar situation this September?
A commission chaired by Arthur Ringeling recently investigated the housing problems and came to the conclusion that the EUR had failed miserably. Stadswonen, the EUR and two students have now reacted to this damning report with a joint statement, published on the EM website, (www.erasmusmagazine.nl). As far as the number of houses is concerned, they state that the agreement between the EUR and Stadswonen is for Stadswonen to have 450 student apartments ready in September. At the same time the parties acknowledge that the number of international students has been on the rise. Stadswonen and the university are therefore hard at work to increase the number of available apartments.
The increase will primarily be realised through newly created student housing on the campus they say, which is true: Somewhat surprisingly, Kees Lansbergen, director of the EUR’s facility centre announced on 3 June that the F/G building on the Woudestein campus will be available in September. It will house 109 international students. Yet there is a hitch: Stadswonen will rent the building from the EUR and should rent out the apartments to international EUR students exclusively. Lansbergen goes on to say that he has managed to acquire 65 extra living units for international students, of which twenty are from Stadswonen. He believes this September there will be a match between ‘supply and demand’.
In addition to the housing shortage, there was criticism too this year from students who did have an apartment. They claim Stadswonen’s rents are too high, the apartments are dirty, their furniture is old and worn and students have few or no alternatives, certainly not after having signed a ten-month contract. After that, students cannot move to somewhere else, while some areas are considered unsafe. Stadswonen is a monopolist they said. Now all say in their joint statement they “are confident that [the newfound] collaboration will lead to more clarity and improved communication with foreign guests. This will change the service experience, which will be perceived as improved.”
The problems are now high up the agendas of both the EUR and Stadswonen which is good news for a new batch of international students. There should be enough accommodation available in September. Time will tell. To be continued. KL
|The joint statement by Stadswonen, the EUR and students Barnabe Lacroix en Willem Kistemaker can be read (in English) on EM’s website|