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20,000 students without housing in Sweden

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20,000 students without housing in Sweden
Students at Uppsala university in Sweden. Photo: Magus Liam Karlsson/Image Bank Sweden
12:10 CEST+02:00
As Swedish and foreign students prepare to start university this autumn, a new report suggests 20,000 of them will struggle to find a place to live, despite a national push to tackle the housing shortage.
On Thursday, 385,000 people will find out if they have secured a place at a Swedish university, with most courses getting under way in late August or September.
 
But the excitement of scoring a spot on a fascinating course or making friends in a new city will be marred for many, due to an ongoing housing shortage affecting more than half the locations across Sweden which offer further education.
 
In 2015, 20,000 people are likely to start their first term without accommodation, 3,000 more than five years ago, according to a new study.
 
Conducted by Studentbostadsföretagen, the trade association for groups that own and manage student residences in Sweden, the report argues that while efforts have been made to build new homes in university towns and cities in recent years, too many of the properties remain unaffordable.
 
"Students cannot afford to pay that much," Ingrid Gyllfors from Stockholm's Student Housing Foundation, which co-wrote the report, told Swedish broadcaster Sveriges Radio.
 
But she said she understood that properties were pricey, because "the cost of land and construction costs are high".
 
The study suggests that the shortage affects both cities' hopes to become leading centres of research and education as part of Sweden's growing "knowledge economy" as well as attracting students currently living in other parts of the country or abroad.
 
"Poor accommodation can characterize the entire experience of studying in a negative way," it reads.
 

Students at Uppsala University. Photo Alina Lessner/Image Bank Sweden
 
 
An accommodation adviser in Lund in southern Sweden, which has long been one of the cities battling most with the accommodation shortage, told The Local on Thursday that successful students should consider couch surfing or sharing a room with several others when they first arrive in the city, before seeking out longer term sleeping arrangements.
 
"It is difficult for students. They all arrive at the same time. It is hard to get your first place but it is easier when you've been here a few weeks and have got to know people," said Susanne Hansson, an accommodation co-ordinator who works with both Lund University and the local municipality.
 
"Just about half of the properties built last year were for students, but it is really expensive for students to live in the new productions."
 
Asked if she could estimate how many students would end up finding secure accommodation in the long run she said: "I cannot answer that, I just can't give you an exact number."
 
She advised those looking for a room to check out BoPoolen.nu, a site in Swedish and English run by Lund University Student Union.
 
But the website might not offer the reassurance that new arrivals are looking for.
 
"The housing situation in Lund is tough, and finding accommodation here will require a lot of time and effort," it reads, before suggesting that students might be better off living in a different city altogether.
 
"It is very hard to find a place to live near the centre of Lund and many students live in the surrounding areas instead. Luckily there are a few bigger cities and a lot of beautiful towns easily accessible by bike, bus or train. It is easy to commute!"
 
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised that 150,000 new homes will be built in Sweden each year from 2016, focusing on affordable apartments for low earners and students.
 
"We have a have a great housing shortage in Sweden. Housing is a key part of the government's labour strategy," he told a press conference in March.
 
"A housing shortage is one of the biggest obstacles to growth, such that people cannot move wherever they want," he added.
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