At the moment, Evers sees a busyness comparable to that of 2019. “Back then, we saw that - after the usual peak during the summer months - the demand for rooms dropped quickly after the start of the academic year. This year, Maastricht Housing (Maastricht University’s housing agency, ed.) expects a similar scenario. Should the number of students looking for a room nevertheless remain high, we are considering a temporary solution, such as using sports halls as sleeping quarters.”
It is different this time round, with the return to actual in-person education, many senior students are also looking for accommodation. “These are mainly students who decided against moving to Maastricht last year because of the online education,” says Evers. “That lack of occupancy is now helping with the extra demand for accommodation. Foreign bachelor’s and master’s students are also eager to make use of the possibility of staying in the UM Guesthouse, which normally speaking is only meant for exchange students. Of that latter group, there are - as one would expect - a lot fewer, many programmes having been cancelled due to COVID-19.”
This seems to confirm Maastricht’s reputation of being a university city with a relatively relaxed housing market. In some other cities, such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the demand for rooms is traditionally a lot higher. The situation in Enschede is so tight at the moment that the University of Twente is advising foreign EU students without accommodation to stay at home or even to reconsider their choice of study programme, Tubantia reported.
Although the UM warns foreign students that the waiting time for a room can take up to a month, the situation like in Enschede is not an issue for the time being. “Certainly for a university with an international character, it would mean losing face if foreign students were unable to find a place to live,” says Evers. “That is why we keep a really good eye on the situation every year.”
For example, the UM has arranged with the city of Maastricht that every year 485 new student rooms will be added in Maastricht, to accommodate the growing influx of students. However, this doesn’t offer any guarantees. Evers: “Many construction projects suffered great delays during the pandemic. That is why only about half of the planned accommodation has been completed. So, we need to remain vigilant.”