Almost all Dutch student cities currently have a room shortage. The National Student Union (LSVb) noticed that last year no less than forty thousand students could not find a place to live and still live at home. With such high demand and low supply, prices also go up.
Students experience difficulties finding a room, especially in the big cities, and the average price has now risen to over 400 euros, De Volkskrant, a Dutch national newspaper, wrote two weeks ago in response to a study by Kamernet.nl. Many rooms have been added over the years, but that is still not enough given the strong increase in the amount of international students over the same period. "We have underestimated a bit how big the growth in the number of international students would be, I think", Ardin Mourik of Kenniscentrum Studentenhuisvesting recently confessed.
Both national and international students now face this problem, but for international students it is even more difficult to find a room due to the large number of advertisements with #dutchonly. It is not necessarily about descent but more about the language. The ability to speak Dutch is a primary condition to qualify for the offered room.
On October 1st 2017, the TU/e alone already had 1510 international students and they all need a room. Of course they cannot continue to live with their parents and at the same time study here, like some Dutch students do. The international student association of the TU/e, Cosmos, is also familiar with the phenomenon of #dutchonly. Gergő Sütő, member of the board of Cosmos, says in a comment: "After I have spoken with both Dutch and international students about the topic #dutchonly, I have come to the conclusion that, generally speaking, houses with only Dutch students value their traditions more than mixed houses. In addition, the majority of Dutch students prefer not to speak English in their personal environment/time. International students have a different way of socializing and divide their time between different groups of friends, which makes their home community less cohesive."
Sütő understands that it is important to belong to a community, both for Dutch and international students, but he also stresses another important point: "I don’t think that international students are stressed because they cannot get a room in a Dutch student house. They are stressed to get a room at all because of the large room shortage currently. If the municipality could solve that problem with enough available rooms for all students, this would have never been such a headed discussion."
In the Eindhoven Facebook group for student housing you can also find posts where #dutchonly is discussed. Some Dutch students indicate that they simply want to be able to speak Dutch with their housemates. Despite the fact that many Dutch people speak excellent English, that does not mean that they still want to do this after working hours. In addition, some comment that landlords require Dutch speaking candidates for their rooms.
Read more after the frame.
Below the surface of the #dutchonly issue, the general shortage of student rooms is an important issue: landlords can afford the luxury of excluding certain groups because they get their rooms filled up anyway. Although this shortage in Eindhoven is definitely less serious than, for example, in Amsterdam or Groningen - where the university has called on its staff to take in first-year international students who are now forced to sleep in tents -, students often find it difficult to find a room here.
According to the report 'Check je kamer' (‘Check your room’) of the National Student Union (LSVb), two-thirds of the students in Eindhoven pay too much for the room they rent - on average almost ninety euros per month. Eva de Bruijn, student Industrial Design at the TU/e and council member for GroenLinks (left political party) in the Eindhoven city council, recently asked questions to the Mayor and the City Counsil Members. She asked the city administrators whether they want to actively seek solutions for the lack of housing and the too high rents.
Like to share your experiences?
Cursor would like to get in touch with international students who are struggling in their room search and want to share their opinion. But also with residents of student houses where #dutchonly is the norm. What is the reason for you not to want to live in a mixed house? Leave your comment or contact us.
The group on Facebook that is referred to in the article is 'Find a room(mate) or house in Eindhoven - room(s) in Eindhoven'. It’s a closed group, only accessible if you are a member.