The city of Assen is setting its sights on becoming a vibrant student city. This ambition was one of the key points presented by the Assen municipality during the annual Promotion Days (Promotiedagen) at Martiniplaza in Groningen. “Such an ambition has been around for some time, but we in Assen have been too modest about it,” city alderman Martin Rasker was quoted by broadcaster NOS as saying.
The goal of becoming a bustling student city is part of the ‘Asser Ambition Agenda’ of the capital of Drenthe. The agenda also includes aspirations regarding employment and housing development beyond 2030. “We already have a housing deal with the national government, but I want to add something to that. If we can secure 5,000 jobs, then we can also build 10,000 homes,” Rasker’s colleague, alderman Cor Staal, stated two weeks ago on the Radio Drenthe program Cassata.
Not a second Groningen, but a complementary hub
To achieve that goal, a large number of students need to move to Assen. “We are not aiming to become another Groningen; that’s too ambitious,” Rasker emphasizes. “There is, of course, a strong connection between the two cities. Assen can provide housing solutions for many students, serving as an overflow from Groningen. We also want to grow on our own with a range of new educational offerings. There is interest from educational institutions, but that will take years.”
Beyond education: Cultivating a vibrant atmosphere
To attract those students to Assen, the city’s strategy doesn’t solely involve expanding educational offerings; it also focuses on creating a lively hospitality scene. “Efforts are underway, and we already have a beautiful square. The hospitality industry is developing at an increasing pace, acting as a catalyst that impacts other aspects. We are also contemplating extending opening hours,” Rasker explains.
As for the potential student campus, the municipality envisions it on the grounds of the Johan Willem Friso barracks. The barracks site on the edge of the center will shrink in the coming years, and the city is seeking a new purpose for the buildings that the Ministry of Defense will no longer use.
Rasker is aware that Assen has a long way to go before it can become a real student city. “But we are determined to achieve this goal. We are working on it together with the educational institutions, the business community and the residents of Assen,” he says.