UG wants to prevent homeless students, extra emergency housing unnecessary

Next academic year, the UG is willing to provide housing to students who haven’t found a room yet, but they won’t provide extra emergency shelter in the form of tents or dormitories.

So said UG board member Hans Biemans on Thursday. The university is working together with the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, the municipality of Groningen, and the Groningen Student Union on a plan to prevent a new wave of homeless students in September.

‘We’re looking at how many students we’re expecting, how many available rooms there actually are in Groningen, and what the capacity of the necessary shelter will be’, said Biemans. ‘We’ll provide emergency shelter right away as a temporary solution, rather than implementing it as an extra measure. We’ll also make sure to be clear about how much room there is left.’

Responsibility

The university also wants students to know that it’s their responsibility to find housing. ‘We want to help them by showing them how to figure out the housing market in Groningen’, said Biemans. They’ll tell students where to go to find a room, but will also point out alternatives, like living in Assen.

‘On top of that, we want to make sure that students know that if they come to Groningen in August without having secured a room, it will most likely be very expensive to find housing here.’ The UG will also explicitly discourage students from coming to Groningen if they haven’t found a room yet. 

No ban

‘Obviously, we can’t ban people from coming here’, says Biemans. If students do decide to come here, the university hopes their communication is clear: that housing is their responsibility and that if they do show up, there’s a good chance they’ll be paying through the nose for a hotel or hostel.

Biemans is not in favour of extra emergency housing in the form of tents or the dormitory like last year’s at the Peizerweg. ‘That’s no way for students to start their academic careers.’ The university is investigating alternative housing options in addition to emergency shelter, like Groningen residents temporarily housing students.

The plans for emergency shelter, alternative housing, and the way the university can best reach prospective students are all still being discussed. Biemans expects a definitive plan in May.

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