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Foreign students camp out in housing protest

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 31 Aug 2010, 15:49

Published: 31 Aug 2010 15:49 GMT+02:00

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"There are around ten students currently camping. This by no means how many are in fact homeless - it takes a lot of courage to come to terms with being homeless, and to live in a tent," said Kyle Verboomen, who is engaged as international student coordinator at the Stockholm University student union, to The Local on Tuesday.

Verboomen said that many students arriving at Stockholm University for the autumn term were misled to believe that accommodation would be made available but when they arrived found that this was not the case.

"There is simply not enough room in the pot. I would say to the university - do not admit students that you can not house," he said, arguing that a coordinated approach is required to ensure that all departments are giving out accurate information over the situation.

The student union has responded to the situation by providing tents for homeless international students as a last resort, and as a protest to push the university to act.

The union has urged Stockholm residents to get in touch if they are able to offer a room, a couch, or floor space to needy students, even if only for a short period of time.

"It is not nice for the international students to be camping out, by a public walkway and with all the Swedish students walking past and seeing them there," Verboomen said.

Housing shortages are a common feature of student life in several Swedish cities, but in Stockholm the problems are exacerbated by a rental housing market that exists in name only.

Story continues below…

More than 300,000 people are waiting in line for a rental contract in the capital, home to around 2 million people. While this doesn't mean that as many are in fact homeless, a large number live in unstable sub-let arrangements, leaving slim picking for groups, such as international students, who arrive for short term stays.

The queue for student apartments in Stockholm has increased dramatically over the past few years to 50,000 people for a housing stock of only 8,000 dwellings.

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Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:42 August 31, 2010 by StockholmSam
What an embarrassment. And beyond the mere embarrassment of the quality of Swedish higher education, I mean.
19:05 August 31, 2010 by skatty
Always every year the same stories, students are homeless, people are jobless, economy is in good shape, and everybody love the country! I don't eve have to read Swedish news any more.
19:29 August 31, 2010 by Puffin
Not really an embarrassment - all Universities are struggling this year - some have written to staff asking them to rent rooms to students.

Higher education is unpredictable in Sweden - 3 years ago we were all discussing an applications crisis and many courses did not run owing to not enough applications - it's difficult for housing associations to keep pace with these peaks and troughs

Everyone who does research knows that there is an acute general housing shortage in Stockholm for people with well paying jobs - and that this is the year that the student housing crisis will peak owing to 2 additional factors:

- high unemployment in Sweden means that a higher proportion of Swedes are studying who might have chosen to work after high school it jobs were available

- the final year of free tuition for non-EU students means that that there has been a huge peak in international applications.

Perhaps some of the students with accomodation could let homeless students sleep in their flats and rooms as a short term measure
20:12 August 31, 2010 by mojofat
Can someone explain why real-estate developers haven't started building apartments by the boatload if this is the case every year? I've lived in several large university towns around the world and have never seen anything this crazy and mismanaged. It doesn't seem to make any sense.
20:39 August 31, 2010 by Thebinary1
The problem has already been dealt with.

This issue is one of the reasons why tuition fees have been introduced for international students from 2011 onwards.

So in 6 months time, the backlog of students with pending acommodation needs would decline significantly.
20:40 August 31, 2010 by Kaethar
@mojofat: Stockholm is not a university town. The student housing problems exist but isn't as great a problem in Lund or Uppsala. In Stockholm the housing situation is in a serious crisis. "Build more flats" isn't really an answer. Who should pay for these flats? Where should they be built? Demand for rooms rises and falls each year depending on how many people are studying. :/
21:31 August 31, 2010 by Iraniboy

Well, I think the problem comes from the fact that the real estate in Sweden is not yet fully privatised. Apartment building is in the hands of some companies and the prices are fully controlled and kept at low level. Generally, if there are more demands from students, there should be motivation from real estate companies to build more and earn more but since there are not enough benefit in this industry, they rather not to build more. I can speak for Gothenburg. I knew students who wanted to pay any rent but they simply couldn't find an independent place because it was non-existent.

By the way I think if the problem is temporarily resolved, next year we won't see the problem as the number of students will be halved.
21:41 August 31, 2010 by stmanpule
Only God knows what i will go through if i eventually make it to Sweden next year
23:32 August 31, 2010 by RoyceD
Iraniboy, I have no idea how or why you try and link privatization of real estate to a completely different subject of the university accepting more students than it could provide accommodation for.

This is the fault of the university application board and its members. No one else.
00:21 September 1, 2010 by 4thtankie
I think this is a problem, how many swedish students have been refused entry to swedish universities but yet they constantly admit foreigners. They take it for granted that they should be accepted, housed and things altered to suit their needs. Iranboy, why do you wish to study in Sweden, is it their history, politics, way of life that entices you. I am a poorly educated individual that never made it to university but I am shocked by the amount of non-nationals in further education. Yes whilst I have missed the point of the "Camping out" I do think that if Swedes took these university places then they would have a roof over their heads already and would not need to camp out. The problem will be solved if the non-swedes study at home. Too many of these foreigners end up as economic immigrants seeking wealth in the very countries that have educated them. apologies if this is not what you want to hear but "this is a democracy"
00:58 September 1, 2010 by grantike

i really think you are way behind and off point from all your views. i studied in west-coast .most of this course Swedish student do not take some of the courses they skip them.now you say they are not admitted.what tha hell are you talking about .foreigners and Swedish do not have same admission protocols .now in some course like embedded system and and most masters are made of foreigners like i saw in halmstad today.i guess next year they will be empty classrooms and no one to study.guess you will be happy


you need to study heard if you need to be considered for university place next.read your books very well.cheers
01:01 September 1, 2010 by Deema
How can I reach those homeless students? I can offer a couch/floor space.

Anyone knows any of them?
01:05 September 1, 2010 by glamelixir
My husband and I are students, our second hand contract expires at the end of the month... hell yes we are going to join the homeless files, we have been cueing for almost two years and we can't get even a student room... at this pace I might get a room when I graduate!

It is well known that there are many free flats in Stockholm, people aren't returning their first hand contracts because they are waiting to turn them into bostadsratt...

They need to control second hand contracts better.
01:54 September 1, 2010 by engineer1
would someone be so kind as to explain the rental regulation process; if i owned a flat and chose to rent it out, would i find a tenant directly or does it have to go through some government agency; and how is the rental price determined ? (evidently it is controlled by the government?)
02:03 September 1, 2010 by Mak81
I guess these students need palaces to live on i put up an add for a room and all said that its far so i guess the closest place to live on is the one they are living right now.
07:26 September 1, 2010 by flintis
Should make sure they've got somewhere before they get here, & these people are supposed to be the future. God help us they can't even plan their own life.
08:11 September 1, 2010 by wabasha
these students were likely to hook up with swedes anyway... being homeless will just speed up the process.
08:21 September 1, 2010 by Iraniboy

Your argument about refusing Swedish students for the sake of foreign students is both irrelevant and ridiculous. This is simply a ridiculous allegation.


The universities in big cities of Sweden have always mentioned in their website that they do not guarantee accommodation. But my argument is that if a business is healthy by the increase of demand, there should be supplier. According to my experience, even you want to pay the double amount of rent for a place, you are still unable to get it. That's because prices are extremely regulated and kept low so it is not beneficial for companies to build more apartments.
08:37 September 1, 2010 by 4thtankie
grantike, clearly you miss the point too, my point is that the foreigners should stay as that and remain in their own country, there is regoins in university cities that are fast becoming little areas of foreigners. i know the courses are advertised for foreiners but i disagree with this but even so, sort your own accomodation out before you come. Iraniboy, this clearly hit a raw nerve and welcome to democracy, this is something you will have to get used to, choice, open opinions, your views. why don't you study in Iran or a country closer to you and i bet you intend to remain in a country other than your to be a ......mmmmm wellllllll Doctor etc....so typical
09:14 September 1, 2010 by Argentina84

I find your comments very entertaining! My question is "How can someone who has never been into higher education programmes speak so boldly of what should and should not be done about foreign students? ;) LOL
09:18 September 1, 2010 by flintis
Plenty of cheap tents for sale at eg; Rusta, otherwise these "students" should go somewhere they can get accomodation.
09:40 September 1, 2010 by RoyceD
4thtankie, you are sounding really racist man. The whole point of having students from other countries in "YOUR" universities as that it benefits the Swedish students most of all. Having classrooms full of people with different backgrounds can help remove alot of the stereotypes and generalisations people make towards important issues being discussed. This prepares Swedish students to go out into the world with a better understanding of where they might be going and the culture there. For a country that has the most passports overseas/per capita there really are some hypocritical racist people here.

Iraniboy, you still didnt connect the housing issues to privitisation in anyway, give it up. Paying more for rent just because you can afford to pay more is obviously not going to be a good solution, that is how you create massive homeless problems. Glamelixar hits the nail on the head, there is waaaaay to much bureaucracy here in Sweden anyway, and when it comes to housing it is a joke. There are thousands of unused apartments in the city not being used in the way the government has regulated for, this is what is causing a huge back log. That plus a baby boom in Sweden.

Once again, the only people at fault are the employed by the University.
10:49 September 1, 2010 by Iraniboy

I think I fairly connected it. Since it is not private, the prices are regulated and are kept at low level. So when the demand increase, there is no motivation for suppliers to respond to this demand because they simply don't ear profit by increasing their customers.On the other hand, if it was a private business, suppliers could earn profit by having more customers.

By the way I cannot accept that there are thousands of unused apartments.

I won't blame the university, they neither can count number of empty apartments around the town, nor have they ever claimed to be responsible for this.
13:04 September 1, 2010 by thebittertruth
@4thtankie..Stupidity should really be your bed partner.Check out there if Stupidity hasnt gotten a place to stay and take it home with you.

"Too many of these foreigners end up as economic immigrants seeking wealth in the very countries that have educated them." What the heck!!!!

Have you ever studied basic economics before? Maybe you dropped out from grade 6 and picked a job so your reasoning rotates around the Swedish salary you earn and the beautiful car you probably drive...

What do you expect the foreign students who received an education from Sweden to do? Run away like your Swedish brothers run away with CSN debts on their necks to other countries??

Son, getting an education and staying put as an immigrant is contributes to NATION BUILDING which a neophyte like you wont understand because you NEVER WENT TO ANY SCHOOL to appreciate the real value of education.

You are NOT RACIST as some may think you to be..You are just painfully naive and I bet you that your educated Swedish peers will be ashamed of the type of statements you made here ..Grow Up
15:40 September 1, 2010 by grantike

i guess we will leave Sweden for you alone.good luck with that .

@ thebittertruth

i guess you said it all

back to the issue with housing most student union promise this students accommodation and they pay some kind of deposit.in case they fail to make here.they charge them ridiculous amount of money and even ask them to pay in the summer when the houses are even free from the housing companies.all these needs to looked at.i just talked to couple of new students their experiences in accommodation is so bad.
16:39 September 1, 2010 by kost16

You do understand that foreign students are a source of income for the country hosting them right? Also most of foreign students study in programmes developped for foreigners, which are carried out in english. So spare us the retorics about "foreigners taking the places of Swedes in universities".
23:26 September 1, 2010 by 4thtankie
well done all you foreigners and tree huggers on your views, I am not a racist, people, families etc who escape hatred, need refuge, escape tyrony, escape dictatorship i welcome with open arms and have many friends who fall into this bracket. they have not got the choice and escape from their country seeking help...many others including amny (But not all) students fall into ecnomic immigrant status.

if only you guys looked closer at home then perhaps you wouldn't be looking outside your own neighbourhood.


i can comment on this as I live in a democracy and don't have to look over my shoulder for making these comments and yes these comments are based on my experience 40 years of it in many countries where I see young males fleeing their country for economic reasons. They are the future of their country, stay, struggle, sort it out.


yes tehy are a source of income but a source that isn't really worth it.


yes please i would have it tomorrow but being a realist "it aint gonna happen"


great points to which i have and answer to each of them.

1. i don't drive a beautiful car, i did not drop out of 6th grade. too many spongers from foreign soils are resident in sweden but that is not my point, my point is these guys should stay at home to be educated.

2. Ah, the CSN debts thing, well young man, the CSN debts are payable in whatever country you reside and i assure you they do find you.

3. The funniest but most pathetic point you make is about naion building....how can a large amount of foreigners contribute to nation building, swedes do swedish things in a swedish way, foreigners do their thing their way. When you come to a country whatever country that is you should adopt their customs, language, way of life...but hey they don't do they.....an old saying "When in rome" that does not apply to many of these guys.

i would like to thank you guys for reading my very uneducated, personal, experience based but honest opinion. you can get a tent froma camping shop...good luck, study hard and swedens history has vikings, war, peace and a country of love and openness which may be to its cost if things continue. If it upsets some of you i apologise but its my opinion,
07:43 September 2, 2010 by flintis
@ 4thtankie: BRAVO well said, tho' are you sure your not just a student antagonist or antagonistic student?
09:19 September 2, 2010 by 4thtankie

neither, just and antagonist whos student years are well behind him.
12:38 September 2, 2010 by thebittertruth
@4thtankie: I can see through your recent comments that you have actually followed my advice to GROW UP...Congratulations!!!!! I can even read the phrase "I apologise" ., that is the way civilized persons behave.

I have the following questions for you, and I want you to be honest with your answers:

1) Have you or any other Swede you know of ever gone abroad for purpose of study?

2) Was your/their presence in the country of their study seen as a curse by the host citizens?

3) Did you/ they have experiences of the host always asking you this one question: When are you going back to your country?

4) Must we eat rotten fish and drink alcohol in binge contests just because we want to fit in even with the negative aspects of the swedish custom?

5) Does the "when in Rome..do as Romans " adage really mean foreign students should adopt the Swedish attitude to rape as reported everyday in the papers? if not where do you draw the line between what swedish attitudes foreigners must adopt and which they should discard?

6) Do you think Swedes who accept jobs in foreign countries are just another group of SPONGERS who take away opportunities from the residents of that country?

7) Do you think Swedes pay higher taxes than foreigners employed within Sweden so that it is the Swedish tax payer who contributes to NATION BUILDING?

8) What really do you understand by the term NATION BUILDING?

9) The Gasp from your lungs about the CSN thing makes me believe you havent paid yours yet and whenever you see foreign students you have this vague but unfounded notion that foreign students get CSN from your government.

What I admire most about the Swedish system is the strength and length of the tentacles of Kronofodgen to reach out to all debtors and collect every dime of what you owe it.

This is your exam, and I hope you answer them and get a good grade from members of the forum who shall no doubt be expecting you to respond .
12:50 September 2, 2010 by kost16
4thtankie, why isn't it really worth it?

Take as an example an individual like me who spends let's say up to 100.000 kr / year in sweden for 2 years. Taking into consideration a rough estimation of 18% vat due to the different vat percentages this ends up to 18000 kr / year straight to the state budget which can cover a large part of what the state spends for educating me.

According to högskolverket 36.000 students from foreign countries came to study in sweden in year 2008/2009. For the sake of argument let's suppose that some people spent less than half the money mentioned above so we can end up to an average vat amount per student per year around 12000 kr (very very rough estimations). so 12000*36000=432.000.000 kr.

Let's say 400.000.000 kr entered the state's cashiers in one year ONLY BY VAT!!! Still isn't worth it????? Of course this is nothing compared to the economic benefits of attracting competent scientists, foreign capital spend in the local communities etc.

And before someone brings forward the stupid argument that most of them are from poor countries so they spent almost nothing bla bla bla, according to the same report students from europe, north america and oceania are 17800 out of 36500 students where life standards are high. the report is here: http://www.hsv.se/aboutus/publications/reports/2010.4.ac0b56a12a53b8af8580001229.html

Now i ll go back to do my free of charge research to be given to my university...
19:54 September 2, 2010 by manrush

"Too many of these foreigners end up as economic immigrants seeking wealth in the very countries that have educated them."

And this is a bad thing because?
21:09 September 2, 2010 by voidplay
I would like to make a simple point

Most foreign students come here after their bachelor degree which is mostly a luxory particularly if they are from poor countries, not all of them end up getting jobs here in Sweden. This is unlike Germany where I met many students had better jobs than I as a foreign student could dream of here in Sweden. Granted that Sweden gives high quality education for free, but it should be understood that the fee charged by American or UK colleges are Exorbidant (and the motive is mostly just commercial), a more realistic one is that charged by German universities.

These economic migrants will seem so much more useful when you consider that swedish employers could get several years worth of free education and maintanence cost, at the cost of maintaining some investment in education (often it turns out to be the cheapest way to "Swedishify" these outsiders).

And more over today most of the wealth of companies and nation is purely intelectual and assets by themselves will soon become irrelevant. Ericsson or Saab are valued by their people, their factories can be replicated elsewhere and are quite worthless and very often a liablity.
22:07 September 2, 2010 by 4thtankie

clearly done some biased research, but do you think the income will cover the likes of the huge court costs for "Man jailed for murder of 18-year-old" whi was dare i say it an immigrant. defend it if you must be he is the scum of the earth. yes nationals also commit crimes and they too are the scum.


studied abroad no, except taking in and learning the culture of a country on holiday. I have however visited many countries in many parts of the globe and yes in many of them i was accepted but in many (the majority of where most immigrants come from) they would much rather i was not there, on more than one occassion we had to leave rapidly. I can't pop down to my local church for a quick prayer and i am mocked for eating pork. i am sure you are far more welcome in your country than i am. do you honestly think that all swedes binge drink and eat rotten fish, how niaive are you. even if they do, its sweden, they have done it for years, accept it and if you don't like it, go home. sweden was built over many years for the way it is....like it or lump it. nation building, oh my friend i know more about nation building than you care to. i am proud of where i come from, who i am, my family, my achievements and my failures, i am just as proud of my failures and learn from them, i am equally as proud of my country, what it has achieved, what it has tried to achieved. i consider my country as a team and i consider myself and my fellow countrymen part of that team. i would die for my country, defending its borders, freedom and am strongly against anyone who threatens it. As for the CSN, my darling wife is still paying them and they are a pain in the butt, but we still pay. As for the swedes that go abroad for work, isn't it a democracy and yes i would much prefer them to stay in sweden but sadly i am not god so cannot control them. I would much prefer them to stay at home and help contribute to their own nation. i would be very interested to see some stats on the amount of foreigners working abroad.


You'll clearly never understand, as you're from a nation, left it behind you and probably consider yourself patriotic to the nation you left Bull****. You don't know why SWEDEN is great, and it aint because you are here I tell you.


thank you, i'm simply just proud and protective of a great nation.
09:27 September 3, 2010 by kost16
4thtankie you defy the laws of logic...
14:25 September 3, 2010 by LeoKinmann
4thtankie cant even speak proper English. what a sad c*&t!
19:48 September 3, 2010 by 4thtankie

yep, i know i do, thats me.

@LeoKinman read the news you plank,, have you got the gene,,most probably,,go home.
11:51 September 5, 2010 by stmanpule
i have really enjoyed every minute i spent here 2day. i enjoyed most especially thetruthisbitter, please can i know you?

i enjoy your quotes a lot, please kindly make it possible for us to know each other better.


12:58 December 7, 2010 by babzil
@ 4thtankie,

u think you can run your dirty n stinking mouth hear spreading trash!! dumb swede, u think you have right to tell some folks to go back home. what d f is special about Sweden that makes u sound like it is so attractive and nice as a country . Sweden! OMG!! cold people, suiciders, depressed lazy unemployed old and young folks who claims to hide under the canopy of social welfare, very BORING society and dumb governance. Travel 2 d UK, Germany and others places and see what life is, i bet you would never regret taking a trip out from that cold shell and isolated community u live in.
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