Anastasia Iarovaia (22, Media & Creative Industries) from Russia agrees with the idea of a quota. “Universities should estimate how much housing is available and determine how many students they can accept based on that.” She heard from friends that the universities in Amsterdam told them not to come to the Netherlands if they had not yet secured accommodation. “I think that’s pretty bad. That message should have been communicated much sooner.”
Anastasia still feels welcome in the Netherlands and thinks it’s logical that international students are the topic of debate: “It’s better to talk about it than to simply let students come and have them fight for rooms.”
“There’s a hostile atmosphere in the Netherlands”, says Stanislaw Jodlowski (19, International Business Administration). He has a very different view of the discussion about international students. “People are using the same language used by racists, and many Dutch people don’t even try to look at the positive side of international students.”
The student from Poland thinks the housing crisis is the cause of the problem, which he says is affecting not only the Netherlands, but all of Europe. Although he doesn’t want to say that the Dutch are racist, he does see increasing discrimination against international students. “The group that’s easiest to attack is the one that will be attacked.’ According to Stanislaw, the housing crisis is being blamed on international students: “First it was: immigrants are stealing our jobs. Now it’s: foreign students are stealing our homes.”
Stanislaw had a lot of trouble finding a room when he came to the Netherlands. He thinks this was because he didn’t speak Dutch. He responded to room adverts for two months, but didn’t receive a single invitation. He ultimately had to arrange accommodation through an expensive broker.
After completing a bachelor’s degree in Maastricht, Milka Laakkanen (23) from Finland is now pursuing her Master’s in International Commercial Law at Erasmus University. She understands both sides of the discussion. “On the one hand, I understand the idea of quotas, but at the same time it seems like international students aren’t welcome.” She believes Dutch universities admit too many students, especially now that more students are choosing to study in the Netherlands post-Brexit. According to Milka, universities should take a closer look at whether it all fits: “It obviously doesn’t feel good if you’re admitted to the university and then you get an email that says: don’t come.”
Milka says the international character of the university enriches education, but she also believes it’s important to integrate: “I think that if you have a job here, you should try to learn the basics of Dutch.” So does she do this herself? Milka answers with a laugh: “I worked at a café in Maastricht, but I don’t speak the language yet.”
In 2021, a total of 31,265 students were enrolled at Erasmus University, of which 23% were international students. Ten years prior, in 2011, that figure was 20,525 students, of which 10% were international students. Across the Netherlands, 24% of students were international in 2021, compared to 11% in 2011.