‘There are plans’, says Manon Hoiting, spokesperson for the municipality. ‘But what we don’t want is what happened last year to happen again.’ Last year the RUG, Hanze, and the municipality had to accommodate many international students in tents, an empty school, and a hotel boat because of a shortage of student housing. The municipality said it hoped to make plans for up to 750 emergency accommodations the following academic year.
Back in January, RUG spokesperson Jorien Bakker said that they were already preparing for the influx of students expected at the end of the summer. At the time she said the partners were ‘hoping to get a better prognosis of how many students are coming this year.’
The municipality expected to have that prognosis by April, at which point they would decide if extra temporary housing measures would be needed. At this time, Hoiting says it is too early for a prognosis but ‘we do think there will be a need for emergency housing again.’
Because the municipality is still negotiating costs, they cannot yet say what that emergency housing might cost students, how many students it will be able to accommodate, or where it will be located. Hoiting says it’s too early to communicate concrete plans. ‘We are in a phase now, with Hanze and the RUG, where we are going to talk about how to organise students and housing’, she says. ‘Soon – maybe in a few weeks – we will talk about how to talk to students about this.’
RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens says the university isn’t responsible for emergency housing solutions. ‘We haven’t made any plans for emergency housing. That’s the job of the municipality.’
In September of 2018, hundreds of international RUG students were still homeless, paying nightly to sleep in tents on Zernike campus, or crashing with other students and professors.
In response to what they viewed as a failure by the university to take responsibility for the well-being of international students, over one hundred students staged a ‘sleep in’ at the Academy building. Theymade several demands, some of which the university realized.
Last year, DAG launched a wide scale couch-surfing initiative to make sure homeless internationals had a place to sleep that wasn’t on the streets. They won’t be doing that again this year, says DAG.RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens says the RUG isn’t responsible for emergency housing for incoming international students. ‘No, we have not made any plans for emergency housing. That’s the job of the municipality.’
Looking for rooms
The RUG also doesn’t know how many rooms will be made available on the primary housing resource sponsored by the university, At Home in Groningen.
According to At Home in Groningen, students should start looking for rooms early – even three to four months early. But the majority of the rooms currently posted on the site are already reserved. When asked if the municipality will work with the RUG and Hanze to add more rooms to the site, Hoiting said that there are plans to add more rooms eventually.
She has no advice for international students abroad who are already looking for a room: ‘I’m not really an advisor. I would say they should check the information they get from the university about housing.’
Student housing market update
In September of 2018, it was estimated that some 1500 student rooms would be added to the market by 2020. The following are developments for students (many for international students, specifically) and young renters that have been completed recently:
- Woldring youth apartments: 435 apartments
- Dragant student apartments: 314 semi-independent studios, short stay
- Oosterhamrikkade: 180 studios
- The Village: 216 studios, short stay
- The Suikerlaan: 249 container studios, short stay
- Van Swietenlaan: 100 apartments, short stay
- Vrydemalaan: 240 units
- Polaris: 207 apartments, 23 years and older
A few of these developments still have rooms available. Many have long waiting lists, which doesn’t do much good for international students who need a room in the next few months
Some upcoming projects:
This article has been updated after the first publication. Though the municipality originally stated several times that they would be making plans for housing measures in a couple of weeks, they clarified after publication that there are in fact plans already underway for both temporary and regular housing for international students, starting in August and September.