Worries about student housing next year

Worries about student housing next year

For the time being, the UM is focussing on Sittard and Heerlen

15-12-2021

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University is urgently looking for a temporary location for the exchange students who are coming to the city in February, but also and especially for the regular students who are going to arrive in September 2022. At that time, about 700 to 1,000 extra units will be needed. A new load of ‘container homes’ in Randwyck is one of the options.

Maastricht University does not want to experience a situation like last autumn again: students being forced to spend nights in hotels, to sleep on friends’ sofas, having to travel as far as Heerlen or Aachen, or making long drives by car to the faculty from the parental home. The UM thought it concerned 150 people, but city council member Alexander Lurvink (a master’s student himself), who was making a case for the students affected, spoke of four hundred. The UM took ad hoc actions, among others with online education for the ‘homeless’ and providing some forty rooms on the Heksenstraat and in the Gerlachus residence.

Mecc

Now the next influx moment – February – is in sight.The main concern is about the exchange students who will arrive. The Guesthouse has fewer rooms available because some of these have been made available to regular students due to the housing crisis. Maurice Evers, head of Maastricht Housing, mentions the Mecc as a temporary solution, but at the same time says that this “does not have much chance of being a success”. “It could – should TEFAF be cancelled – but only in January and February, because the congress season starts again in March. Besides, the cost is very high, it runs into hundreds of thousands to transform the Zuidhal into separate units.”
The UM was told no by the city and the housing corporations. “The corporations don’t have anything temporary and are not willing to invest in it either. What could be an option is hoping that they expand on the subletting conditions, so that students who leave for an exchange visit or work placement, can sublet their rooms more easily. We have had intensive negotiations with the city, about office buildings that could be transformed, about their own real estate, and about the former Overmaze prison, but nothing is suitable in the short term.”

Pre-master

The university is less worried about the regular newcomers who are about to come in February. These past few months, about 1,200 have graduated, some of whom have already moved to another home in Maastricht or to another city. “In addition, the need for housing among the new students is low,” says Evers. One third will start a pre-master’s in February, coming from a university of applied sciences (hbo) and often still living with their parents in the region. Another large group will do the follow-on master’s programme and already live here. Nevertheless, Evers refuses to commit himself: “Nothing is certain. Maybe the students who were recently forced to live as far away as Heerlen now want to look for accommodation in Maastricht.”

Sittard and Heerlen

Looking at September, Evers says that he feels the “pressure”. According to the UM’s predictions, about 700 to 1,000 extra rooms will be needed. “That is going to be quite a task.” For the time being, the UM is focussing on Sittard (260 rooms in the former DSM head office) and Heerlen (120 studios by Live & Be), “not ideal, but travel time is fortunately limited.” In Randwyck, where the UM has its own plot (where once the Calatrava campus was to be built), Evers sees possibilities for 500 ‘container homes’. “But that will be quite a job. Zoning plan changes and environment permits need to be applied for, a developer needs to be selected, soil research needs to take place, and then the container units must be put in place. Short notice, but we will do all we can to get it sorted on time.”

Einstein Campus

It will not be until 2023 that the housing market offers some room, among others because of the construction of 500 student rooms on the Duboisdomein. Within the UM, it is referred to as the ‘Einstein Campus’ because it is situated next to the ET Pathfinder, the testing facility for the Einstein Telescope in the Science and Engineering faculty building.
Furthermore, housing corporation Maasvallei is going to build some 200 units on the parking lot of the MSM building in Randwyck and another 100 rooms on the Limburglaan. Evers: “We are hopeful, but there are always risks. What if the contractor runs into problems? What if they fail to deliver? Moreover, those units will not be ready until 2023.”

 

Author: Wendy Degens

Photo: Loraine Bodewes

Tags: student housing, housing crisis, room shortage, students,instagram,studenthousing

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