Local government officials in Groningen are concerned about the lack of available housing for international students and are planning a special public hearing to address the issue.
Translation by Traci White
The Socialist Party faction proposed the plans for a public hearing on the ongoing housing problem. A date has not yet been confirmed for the event. Although specific numbers are hard to confirm, estimates are that around 450 international students are still looking for a room.
SP chairperson Jimmy Dijk told Dagblad van het Noorden that he believes the Groningen executive council has been dropping the ball on this issue for years. “This is the third year in a row that the executive council has assured the municipal council that there was a good arrangement to provide adequate housing for international students, but they seem to have come up empty handed once again.”
Another council member, Marten Duits from the Student en Stad faction, pointed out that international students are not the only ones being impacted by the room shortage. Duits cited a story from last week of Dutch students who were living in containers on the Damsterdiep on a temporary basis being effectively forced out in order to make room for international students. “But that is not a solution. It’s just kicking the can down the road.”
Labour party councillor Roeland van der Schaaf, who is involved in housing policy in the city, stated that a range of construction projects are underway to bring more rooms onto the market. Starting on the 1stof October, 250 short stay container rooms will be open to international students on the grounds of the former sugar beet factory, and 1,500 rooms are planned for completion over the next couple of years.
But these measures may still not be enough to keep pace with the anticipated growth among international students in Groningen in coming years. The University of Groningen anticipates that up to 30 percent (roughly 10,000 students) of their total student population will eventually be foreign-born. The Hanze University of Applied Sciences is also actively recruiting international students, but their growth projects are not entirely clear.