Two hundred internationals have been sleeping at camping sites, in hostels, or even their cars, because they are unable to find a room in Groningen. Some of them have decided to go back home.
‘I went back to Romania because of the housing shortage’, says Alexandros Bakos, who registered to study law at the RUG. ‘I’ve postponed my plans to study in Groningen for a year. Fortunately, it won’t be a complete loss; I’ll be able to focus on my career in Romania’, he says.
Last, week, the RUG opened up a shelter for international students who did have a place to stay. According to spokesperson Jorien Bakker, the former refugee centre, which offers one hundred beds, has not yet filled up. As of Tuesday, there were still ten spots available. But for some students, the temporary solution is too little, too late: they have already returned home.
‘This Lithuanian kid had to drop out and go back home, simply because he couldn’t afford to stay at the hostel’, 21-year-old Nora Gurung told the UK earlier. She is staying at the Simplon Jongerenhotel.
‘I will approach it differently next year’, says Bakos. ‘I’ve learned from my mistakes. I had no clear strategy for how to find a room, and I really suffered from that. I wasted two months trying to negotiate a contract. The other party pulled out at the last minute. I’ve registered with Lefier, so when I return next year I’ll at least have some points saved up.’
Bakos still wants to study in Groningen. ‘But it’s been a stressful experience’, he says.
Meanwhile, political party GroenLinks has asked Parliamentary questions about the housing shortage that international students are suffering from. Outgoing minister Bussemaker has yet to respond to them. This Wednesday, the Groningen municipal council will have a debate about the issue, requested by the SP and CDA.