The lack of student housing in Sweden is already considered a crisis by many. Last autumn, students at Stockholm University staged demonstrations to protest the lack of housing available to them, while the student newspaper at Uppsala University said the housing crisis in the university town was “worse than ever”.
Now student organisations are demanding national and local initiatives to help alleviate the perpetual lack of housing for Sweden's university students.
“We now have to move from words to action. The necessary political measures must be carried out. We're supposed to be a knowledge-based nation in Sweden, but practical obstacles like a massive housing shortage aren't acceptable,” Beatrice Högå, chair of Sweden's National Union of Students (Sveriges förenade studentkårer, SFS), told the TT news agency.
According to figures from Statistics Sweden (SCB), only 125 student apartments were completed in 2010, a precipitous drop from the 1,172 housing unites that were completed in 2009.
The flats were included in larger apartment buildings which were completed in 2010, adding a total of 19,500 new tenant-owner apartments (bostadslägenheter) to Sweden's overall housing stock.
Of the 125 new units, 118 were built in Karlskrona municipality in southern Sweden, while 7 can be found in the city of Malmö, according to SCB.
Around 83,000 new students were accepted to study at Swedish universities last year – which means that not even two new apartments were built for every one thousand students admitted.
“In a country like Sweden, it shouldn't have to be like this,” said Högå.
She believes that politicians need to take a more active stance on the issue of student housing by enacting subsidies, tax breaks, or reduced value added tax on construction to help stimulate the building of more student housing units.
Oscar Lavelid, chair of the Stockholm Federation of Student Unions (Stockholms studentkårers centralorganisation – SSCO), estimated the wait time for a one-room student apartment through the Stiftelsen Stockholms Studentbostäder (SSSB), the main student housing foundation in the Stockholm, is around 18 months.
He added that no new student housing has been built in the Swedish capital in the past four years.