Netherlands: lack of accommodation, foreign students find themselves at the campsite

In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, there was already a shortage of 22,000 student housing in 2020 in the Netherlands. The figure could rise to an alarming level of 50,000 missing rooms in 2024-2025, according to the Kences research office, due to the return of foreign students after the pandemic. The latter find themselves confronted with the overheating of the rental market, a room in the center of Amsterdam being easily rented for 850 € per month.

An unprecedented shortage

The problem is structural: Amsterdam, a “compact” city of 750,000 inhabitants, refuses to expand and encroach on the surrounding nature. But the shortage is unprecedented. So much so that the University of Amsterdam (UVA), which has 25% of foreign students out of 40,000 enrolled, had to find back-up solutions.

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The AVU, which has only 2,000 to 3,000 rooms, in September provided 110 foreign students with bungalows for € 350 a month in a campsite in the woods of Amsterdam, on the edge of Schiphol airport.

Spring unknown

The site is affordable but quite far from the university. It takes 40 to 50 minutes by bike or an hour by public transport“, notes Kostas, a Greek student who regrets his Athenian scooter.

As temperatures drop, students can rely on their precarious roofs in the woods for a semester, while they wait for spring. It’s stressful, says Michael, a Briton registered in communication, because the question of the point of fall will still arise at the end of March, in the middle of the exams. ”

According to Bart Ouwerkerk, from the AVU housing department, “There is a shortage of 5,200 rooms in the Amsterdam area. New units are added slowly, as there are few slots available. And only those over 23 can claim housing allowance for a rent of more than € 442 per month.“.

A general housing problem

Dutch students also find it difficult to find accommodation. They live either with their parents, even if it means taking the train every day, or in university housing estates made of containers arranged in studios, stacked on the northern and southern outskirts of Amsterdam.

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Alarmed by the situation that prevails from The Hague to Utrecht, the Erasmus network in Twente has launched a petition against the shortage, which is hitting 400 to 500 foreign students in Enschede. Signed by 1,400 people, it also denounces scams and illegal rents, well beyond the prices in principle controlled by town halls.

A demonstration organized by Woonprotest brought together 15,000 people on September 12 in Amsterdam. This housing crisis is also hitting the city’s residents, who have to wait on average eighteen months to find an apartment on the “social housing” market, while purchase prices have doubled since 2006.


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