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House hunting

I have once again surpassed the odds and survived another exam season (relatively) unharmed. As usual, it was difficult at times, but I weathered the storm and managed come through it all without failing. Now, with summer ahead and just a small handful of credits left to earn to complete my master’s, I find myself thinking about the next silly season about to hit the UG and Groningen.

I’m talking, of course, about the inevitable accommodation crisis that hits us every year. It’s already starting in room vacancy groups on Facebook. I see so many people advertising rooms for rent or advertising themselves as tenants and plenty of scams are being reported around the city. It’s a wild world out there for prospective students looking to rent, and it’s getting worse. It’s a sad state of affairs.

For those starting their search now, most will likely find a place between now and September. Between sites like Facebook, SSH, Kamernet.nl and Roomwise.nl (to name just a few) there are plenty of options to help find a place, but competition is stiff even now. What’s worse is that competition for places to rest our heads will only get tougher as time goes on.

The competition for places to rest our heads will only get tougher

In some ways, the covid pandemic was a bit of a saving grace this year for students: they could study online from anywhere in the world and so not everyone felt they had to come to the city. I’ve been here throughout, but even so, while that system of purely online teaching definitely had a lot of ups and downs, being able to take all my classes and exams from home had its benefits, too.

There’s no doubt that the reduction in numbers of people actually coming to live in Groningen took the some of the pressure off finding housing. But, with student numbers still expanding and the UG planning for fully in-person teaching for the new year, that relief is probably going to be short-lived.

Some of that relief will continue, as students coming from places where vaccine rollout is slower will take a little long to move. But realistically the UG’s continued growth is unsustainable, given the housing shortage and the ever increasing demand. This leaves so many vulnerable to scams and the search for housing undoubtably harms their first weeks (or months) at uni. Something has to change.

But, for now, happy hunting.

NIALL TORRIS

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