Of the 1363 international VU students who filled in a survey by the International Office, 338 of them do not have a stable housing situation. That is a quarter of them. They are temporarily staying with friends or family, sleeping at hostels or are living abroad.
“This outcome is distressing, but not surprising”, says Joep van Dijk, chair of the University Student Council. “Everyone could have seen it coming for years and none of the involved parties has adequately responded. Not the national government, not the municipality and the universities themselves have also done too little.”
Targeted by scammers
“International students are in a very vulnerable position. They can’t stay with their parents, which makes them an easy target for exploiters and scammers. Their social safety is greatly put at risk”, states Van Dijk.
For the short-term he does not see a real solution, except that universities should be more clear to incoming students about housing problems in Amsterdam and that VU Amsterdam should not solely make housing available for the first year, as is the case now. Because the numbers show that most students without housing are not in their first year and still did not find a room. “But that’s still too small of a band-aid for an open wound”, says Van Dijk, who lives in a room in Hoofddorp because he could not find one in Amsterdam.
Development at Kronenburg
For the longer term, Van Dijk sees a solution in building student housing at Kronenburg, a neighborhood next to Uilenstede which currently houses partially empty office buildings. There were plans to build three- to four-and-a-half thousand student residences, but the Council of State put a stop to it due to concerns about noise pollution from planes.
Van Dijk finds that incomprehensible: “All parties have already stated that they really want the residences. It would swiftly solve a large part of the housing problem for students in Amsterdam.”
Tuesday afternoon, the 14th of February, SRVU and other concerned parties protested on Uilenstede to demand student housing at Kronenburg.