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Student housing crisis 'worse than ever'

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11:58 CEST+02:00
With record-high enrollment at many Swedish universities this year, the lack of student housing is greater than ever as students look for a place to live at the start of the fall 2011 term.

According to the Swedish Agency for Higher Education Services (Verket för högskoleservice - VHS), a total of 270,000 students have been granted enrollment for programmes at Swedish universities and colleges this year.

As a result, students find them facing an even more acute shortage of housing options than in years past.

"The situation in Lund is extreme and it is even worse this year," Tova Bennett from Lund University-based student housing organisation BoPoolen, told The Local.

“It's very tough. If you haven't placed yourself in the queue already, it is almost impossible to get an apartment."

Bennett explained that a lack of student housing as "always been a problem" in Lund, home to one of Sweden's oldest and most prestigous universities, but that the situation is even worse this year.

"We have 8,5000 rooms or apartments in Lund and 35,000 students. This means that it is really hard for someone to get somewhere to live, especially in the centre of town."

While BoPoolen was set up to help students find accommodation near the university, Bennett suggests that students may have better luck if they widen there search to include locations outside the town itself.

“It is a relatively small town but there are many small villages just outside the town where students live and it is easy to either cycle or commute into the university each day” she said.

“I would recommend that all students act as early as possible, use services like our own and try to contact other places privately, to try to find a second-hand contract."

The problem is exacerbated by the increasing numbers of students entering further education as a result of the baby boom in the 1990s, the largest in Sweden since since the immediate boom following World War II.

Those children are now in their early 20s and entering an already crowded system.

Universities are finding themselves deluged with applications, which in turn is putting even more pressure on the accommodation services.

In Uppsala meanwhile, the number of enrolled students increased by 1,500 people and there too it is evident that the problem is worse than last year.

“Last year was tough, but even more so this year," Markus Jonegård of Uppsala-based Studentboet, a service set up by the university to help students rent accommodation privately, told The Local.

"The best advice we can give is to do a lot of the work yourself, get your name on as many lists as possible and contact as any organisations as you can. The more active you are the better, especially for those coming this fall.”

He added that Studentboet is working closely with the university and the local council to find solutions.

“It is obvious that there is not enough accommodation for students, but it is a difficult problem for everyone. The council works very hard and it is too easy to just say they should provide more accommodation,” he says.

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