Student accommodation: an unwinnable battle?

The Dutch Minister of Housing Hugo de Jonge wants to better ‘match’ student intake with the amount of available accommodation in a city. How this should be done is not clear.

Student accommodation on the Van Hasseltlaan in Delft. (Photo: Justyna Botor)

On Tuesday 12 April, MPs debated (in Dutch) the national housing shortage with De Jonge. The discussion also touched upon student accommodation. Especially at the start of the academic year, students often end up living on campsites rather than in proper housing. A problem that only seems to have worsened in recent years, due to the increasing number of international students.

Building more
The MPs came up with a variety of ideas. D66 claimed that temporary accommodation could offer short-term relief. Why not build American-style campuses, suggested Groep Van Haga. And ChristenUnie would rather see “real student digs with a fun, shared living room and a kitchen that’s just a bit too dirty” than studios where loneliness is a danger.

But is building more housing not just fighting an unwinnable battle? “If a university accepts a huge number of students, that’s bound to cause an accommodation problem,” said De Jonge. He believes that “the number of students taken on by universities and their housing options need to be better matched”. What he means by this did not become clear during the debate.

Admissions freeze
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science confirms that it is in talks with De Jonge about solutions for the issue and that “they will take into account the growing number of students.” But that does not mean that there will be an admissions freeze due to the lack of housing. “That’s not doable.”

  • Student housing was an important theme for parties from left to right during the municipal elections of March 2022. TU Delft should do more to tackle the housing shortage, they said. Read our interviews with them here.

The universities want to be able to slow down the influx of international students, but that will take some time. Umbrella organisation UNL says that in the meantime it is appealing to local authorities to create more student accommodation.

HOP, Josefine van Enk
Translation: Taalcentrum-VU

HOP Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau

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