MAASTRICHT. Where a handful of ‘homeless’ students were protesting in front of the Student Services Centre in Maastricht at the beginning of September, under the heading #MaastrichtHousingCrisis, there has been no activity for weeks on the Facebook page of the same name.
Maurice Evers, managing director of Student & Staff Housing at Maastricht University, has not had any new complaints about a shortage of accommodation for foreign students either and assumes that the problem has been solved.
The National Student Union sounded the alarm bell at the beginning of September: there was a huge accommodation shortage in Dutch university cities. Foreign students were forced to sleep in hostels, on campsites, and even in cars. Only two weeks ago, Kences, the umbrella organisation of student housing organisations, expressed its concern about the situation.
It is now the end of October, and although the worst ‘peak time’ is over, politicians have not closed the book on the matter yet. The responsible alderman in Maastricht recently answered written questions posed by the political party D66. He states that there is a balance between supply and demand in the city. “Lack of rooms in September is a temporary problem and the numbers are limited.” According to him, the website MyMaastricht, which provides an overview of the ins and outs of Maastricht, should be brought to the attention of foreign students and private letters better than it is now.
Outgoing education minister Bussemaker also believes in honest and transparent information for newcomers. GroenLinks and SP recently submitted a motion to the Lower House for a new action plan. They want hard agreements with institutes and city councils to deal with the housing shortage. Bussemaker, however, feels that it is not up to universities to ensure that there is sufficient accommodation. “I don't think we should turn education institutes into housing corporations.”