Democratische Academie Groningen, one of the student political parties in the university council at the RUG, is launching a data base for free temporary housing for international students in the city of Groningen.
“Help a fellow student out” is primarily aimed at university students in the city, but Groningen residents with a spare room or couch are also encouraged to sign up. In a press release, DAG writes that they were motivated to find a way to help internationals find at least temporary housing in light of the continued housing shortage in the city.
The student party writes that they hope the project will keep students from ending up camping out on the streets or paying top price for a hotel while searching for a room. “The data base that we will create serves the purpose of connecting temporary housing hosts with seekers in the city of Groningen”, according to the data base website.
University of Groningen spokesperson Jorien Bakker says, “We understand where DAG is coming from and we appreciate their initiative, but of course we hope it won’t be needed. We’re working hard right now to confirm which rooms will be available for students this autumn: the first batch of available rooms should be posted on the At home in Groningen site around mid-July.”
Hundreds of responses
Minja Sillanpää, a member of DAG who is originally from Finland, says that she has personally been lucky when it comes to finding housing as an international student: she stayed in an SSH room for her first year and then found another room through friends. “But it’s always been an unequal situation for international students and it’s always a hassle. The influx of students has clearly changed so much since my first year. Where a post for a room used to get around 20 or so responses on Facebook, we now see them getting hundreds of responses. The competition is just so high.” Bakker says that the university is also keeping an eye on the housing groups on Facebook and endeavours to respond to students personally when possible.
The temporary spots should become available starting in mid-August, at which point international students who have arrived in the city can sign up for the service. People who are willing and able to offer space in their home can indicate the dates that their sleeping space is available and how many students they can accommodate. “It needs to be clear for both parties how long the students can stay.”
The universities in the city of Groningen are working together with the municipality and local housing corporations to find more suitable accommodations for students, but current projections show that there are about 500 too few rooms to house the incoming internationals.