A study, but no place: ‘Soon there will be students…

The number of foreign students is so high and the lack of places so great that universities and colleges are taking action. In Maastricht, Amsterdam, Groningen, Utrecht and Eindhoven, international students without accommodation are now strongly advised: do not come.

The German Finn Schierholz (18) received the festive message in May that he can study artificial intelligence in Groningen from September. But it is almost impossible to find a place to live, states Schierholz, who comes from near Munich. After dozens of messages and calls to room owners, he promised on Facebook to give 200 euros to the person who has the golden tip. “I’m even considering sleeping in a tent, but I don’t know if I can study then.”

During his search, he received a message from the University (RUG) and the municipality: If he does not find a room before August 1, he should consider not coming at all. Students who come will ‘likely be dependent on hotels or hostels for a longer period of time if there are still places available’.

‘Realistic picture’

Groningen is no exception. Maastricht University, UvA and VU in Amsterdam, Eindhoven University of Technology and Utrecht University among others sent letters with the same message.

Read also: Maastricht University: ‘Profit? The five tonnes that have now been recovered is a fraction of what the hack cost us.”

“It’s not an ideal situation, but we try to paint a realistic picture for students: It’s not easy to find accommodation,” says Anja Hulshof from RUG. “We have now received reactions from foreign students who say that they will not come anymore, but we know that there are also others who want to settle here without plans.”

The situation is particularly serious in Amsterdam. There are already 4,500 candidates for the 3,000 furnished residences intended for first-year international students. By the end of June, VU had already received more than 1,800 more applications than there are places to live.


“It is essential that you can start the academic year and the adventure abroad without the stress of possibly becoming homeless,” says UvA. “If you cannot find a place to live, we strongly advise you to adjust your study plans.”

That message alone will not be enough, believes Midas Bosman from the student union LSVb. “I can well imagine that foreigners who have been admitted to the study of their dreams will just come. At the same time, we know with the current situation that the students will be homeless in September.”

Due to the situation, attention is directed to the rapidly growing number of international students in the Netherlands. While 50,900 foreigners followed a survey in the Netherlands in 2012-2013, in 2020-2021 it was more than 100,000. According to the Norwegian Student Housing Monitor, this will increase to just under 140,000 in the coming years. There are 25,600 study rooms too few in the Netherlands.

For a long time, universities and colleges welcomed foreign students with open arms. The educational institutions can charge the fixed tuition fee of 2,200 euros to Dutch and EU students, but for students outside the EU they can come up with an amount themselves. For example, a one-year master’s degree at UvA at the Faculty of Law costs 16,500 euros for a non-EU student.

New law

The educational institutions are now asking politicians in The Hague for a new law so that they can slow down the large influx. “We can’t just turn away students now,” says Hulshof of the University of Groningen. “If they meet the selection criteria for an investigation, we must accept them. Regardless of whether they come from the Netherlands or from Bangladesh.” One of the possibilities is to give the schools the opportunity to set an application limit for English-taught studies.

The Studenterforeningen LSVb has other ideas to slow down the influx. “Not actively recruiting foreign students could already help. And only use English in studies if it is really an addition. It’s not always like that now.”

One thing is certain for the Bavarian student Schierholz: he will come to Groningen at the end of August. With or without space. “This is one of the only places where you could do this study in English. So that decision is safe.”

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