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Student housing shortage worse than ever

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Student housing shortage worse than ever
Photo: Christian Örnberg/Fastighetsbyrån/Scanpix (file)
15:44 CEST+02:00
The student housing shortage appears to be worse than ever for the upcoming autumn session, Sweden's National Union of Students (Sveriges förenade studentkårer, SFS) reported on Friday.

The housing shortage has now spread from larger cities, with a lack in smaller university and college towns becoming apparent as well. SFS does not have any clear statistics, but from what it has observed, it has presented a dismal prognosis.

"The pressure on universities is very hard," said SFS vice-president Elisabeth Gehrke. "There are those who have housing guarantees, but we suspect that some of the guarantees will be smoke in the autumn."

Gothenburg is one of Sweden's largest student cities. However, the shortage of student accommodation is now acute, especially for those who will study at Gothenburg University, Göteborgs-Posten wrote.

The SGS Student Housing Foundation has no more apartments left to allocate and already has 18,000 people on its waiting list. Most have succeeded securing accommodations through other means, such as renting rooms in private homes, for example, but remain on the waiting list.

The situation is equally dire down the road at Chalmers University of Technology, which has five available apartments for every 1,000 applicants, the newspaper reported.

Both the municipality and the university have calculated that it needs at least 2,000 new student apartments in Gothenburg, the report said. Chalmers, for example, open 100 new apartments in the new year.

The housing shortage has long been a problem for students in larger university cities, but SFS has seen how it has become worse in recent years in smaller towns.

"Many small institutions of higher education pledge a housing guarantee, but now a certain number of them have seen a 20 percent increase in demand," said Gehrke.

She pointed out that the lack of small and cheap housing is problem among young people in general. However, for institutions of higher learning, recruitment is problematic when students cannot apply for the courses they want at the risk of being homeless.

This leads to a situation where the top universities end up recruiting students from wealthy or academic backgrounds, with a strong network of contacts and where they can receive advice on possibly even help buying a home if necessary.

"It creates alienation and segregation. Is it fair that only students with wealthy backgrounds should have access to certain educational institutions?" asked Gehrke.

Studies in Uppsala and Lund also show that the housing shortage has an impact on academic results. Those who constantly worry about their housing situation find it more difficult to concentrate on their studies.

As such, it has become an economic burden for colleges and universities that depend on the performance grades of their students.

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