Our full response to the recurring housing topics.

We are Keeping Talent in Twente (KTIT) and this is our response to the recent article of Tubantia: “Kamernood nog groter dan gedacht: UT adviseert internationale studenten ‘weg te blijven’”

To start with, we’d like to ask to be listened to. We’ve repeated over and over, stop talking about students, but start talking with students.

After reading through the article thoroughly, we have discussed about the subject and summarized that this problem came from two things:

Our main points are:

  1. Shortage of student houses is created artificially by the municipality of Enschede
  2. Universities (Saxion and UT) have been sleeping for a decade and not securing student housing possibilities while the amount of students kept increasing. 
  3. Stop crying crocodile tears; they have talked with students a lot, but have not listened. A lot of ideas have been given in the past. This issue is not a surprise. 

In order to understand how we came to those harsh facts, we would like to start by looking back to times before the year 2006. Back then, Enschede didn’t have any housing problems, and it was the cheapest student city. Most of these houses would contain 5-6 people, with very low rent.

There were so many private landlords, which resulted in many options for student housing; if landlords didn’t make an effort to make their houses look warm and welcoming, then students would leave for better houses. Enschede used to be said as the only city where it was common for students to have a spacious living room in their housing. Almost in every other student city, it would have cost a lot of money for as much room as you could get in Enschede.

From 2006 onwards, things started to change for the worse. The municipality had started artificially making it hard for more student houses to be built and maintained. One of these regulations includes: making a certain percentage for how many student houses can be, and imposing permits for building student houses.

As time went by, while barely no student houses were being built, demand increased and there was no additional supplies. There’s been an outrageously high number of rules and regulations about building a house to rent for students. To add to the wound, no new student houses were allowed to be built for some time in the middle of November 2019 to November 2020, permits were simply not given by Enschede municipality.

University grows, demand skyrockets. Eventually, private landlords who own one or two rental houses had to stop renting, giving room to Huisjesmelker (who doesn’t have students’ best interest at heart) to buy those houses and flip them for a huge margin. It then becomes a profitable market for Huisjesmelker, and terribly hard for common landlords to keep up with rules and regulations. For these Huisjesmelker, the profits are big enough to keep up with it.

There is no excuse for not having enough money to build more houses. With the current housing prices, renting out to a maximum of 3 people makes the average rent very expensive. And housing prices are high because there is no supply, which is being held back by the municipality.

In the essence of this issue, the universities, UT and Saxion, are also to blame, and in the end, the students become the victims. UT and Saxion have the power to bring up this topic and discuss with the municipality since they are bringing in talent and stimulating the economy with the students they attract.

They need to talk about the fact that they’re growing in numbers of students, and tell the municipality to turn the market: allow easier building for student housing and allow more people to live in the same house. They need to talk about the fact that decrease in supply, while demand increases, is a recipe for disaster.

If they don’t do anything about this, then they are discriminating against students. Students are a very valuable part of Enschede, Twente and the Netherlands. They deserve better treatment than this. Right now it’s an issue for international EU students, but eventually, Dutch students simply coming from neighboring cities will encounter this housing crisis too.

It has also been reported that there are now more job vacancies than the number of unemployed people in the Netherlands. How could they treat their future professional workers, the people who would help build this country, like this?

We can’t state how important it is for students to have a place that is safe, comfortable, and stable, without costing them 80% of their income. They need to be able to live, study, and work in an environment that welcomes them.

We need to make drastic changes, no later than now.