Internationals leaving Groningen

International students are leaving Groningen because they are unable to find a room in the city. They are dropping out because of the lack of housing.
By Leoni von Ristok and Peter Keizer / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

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.



  1. The Groningen housing bubble is a thing and it’s getting worse every year. The SSH (ex. Housing office) would have limited stock that would be filled up very quickly and honestly what they offer feels like a rip off. At the same time regular realtors can be a nightmare because international students are seen as a chicken that lays golden eggs. If you’re lucky you can get invited to some “kijlavonds” but I haven’t met that many internationals that actually got any accommodation after those info evenings. It’s a vicious circle.

  2. Nothing new at all. Even when I started to study back in 2010 there weren’t enough rooms for all students.
    I’m really surprised that neither the RUG nor local government seem to have been able to improve the situation in 7 years.
    It’s obviously damaging both the city’s and the university’s reputation and ability to compete with other locations for international and national students alike.

  3. Meanwhile, in the street where I live (Eendrachtskade) there is a huge governmental office building which has been empty and unused for about 5 years. It would be ideal for temporarily housing a lot of these students. It just sits there now, which is a complete shame and a total waste. I don’t understand the lack of inventiveness when it comes to these type of problems, we have the space as long as we are willing to be a bit more open-minded…


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