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Student housing in Delft and at TU Delft is a major problem and challenge - for a university that must build in cramped, overcrowded Delft, and for the international students themselves who often complain about having to live alone in cramped rooms or space-boxes.

A Dutch and an international student outline the housing problem as they see it and offer suggestions for fixing it.

Over the past couple of years the number of international students at TU Delft has risen by around 20% every year, and this trend is expected to continue. Currently, there are approximately 2,000 international students in Delft. All these students need proper housing, but housing for international students is not always what international students would like it to be.According to the Monitor on Logistic Quality conducted in 2005, international students were definitely not impressed with the housing available in Delft: they graded the quality of housing as a woeful 4.8 out of 10.The average rent for international student housing is around 350 euros per month, and for that price many students complain that they really aren't getting what they want. For instance: 78% of the international students surveyed in the 'Delftsch Overleg' research study in 2004 said that they didn't want to live on their own, yet most of them do live alone, and this is simply because DUWO provides individual rooms.What Duwo should do is provide houses with more rooms per house, with a common room and shared facilities. This brings housemates together and is good for their social lives and improving their level of English. Because of the interaction with housemates, international students would have more enjoyable stays here and look back on their time in Delft more fondly, which is vital, since the TU expects foreign graduates to serve as 'ambassadors' of TU Delft, spreading the word among their fellow countrymen and women about what a great university this is.TU Delft will continue welcoming more and more international students, because the TU needs international students just as badly as the high-tech 'knowledge-intensive' economy the Dutch government wants to create here. Some research groups at the TU are completely dependant on foreign researchers and some faculties are also increasingly dependant on the influx from abroad.If TU Delft wants international students to keep coming here, and in increased numbers, it has to improve drastically the quality of the services they get - starting with housing. It's obvious that inadequate housing is the greatest problem foreign students are facing. It's just not right to ask for a tuition fee of 8,000 euro per year and provide small, relatively expensive, isolated, cell-like rooms in return.Stop-gapIn terms of equal opportunities, native Dutch students at TU Delft are in a much better position than international students. Dutch students often have relatives nearby where they can stay while looking for a proper room, or they can choose to live in Rotterdam or in Den Haag, traveling free on public transport. They don't have to sign a restrictive rental contract that doesn't allow them to move to another (better and cheaper) room if they find one.TU Delft and the Duwo have been saying for years that they cannot build cheap accommodations with shared facilities, because of government regulations. They also say that the binding rental contracts are necessary to prevent empty rooms.According to Dutch housing law, however, a tenant may leave the rented space within a reasonable term (usually one or two months). The TU has come up with a contract that allows it to rent the room de-facto to the students while not being a rental contract de-jure, so that the housing laws do not apply. By constructing the binding contract, which sails around the existing legislation, the TU Delft and Duwo have proven to be extremely inventive when they want to be. It seems it's not a question of 'cannot', but rather 'don't want to'.The plans to build extra hundreds of housing units are mostly welcome. However, in view of the current shortages on the market, the planned removal of the space-boxes and the increasing total numbers of students from abroad and from the Netherlands coming to Delft, the current plans are just stop-gap measures. The plans also disregard the stated wish of many international students to share facilities with others, a step that would reduce costs and increase social cohesion.The current situation - in which the English-language versions of the Duwo website and TU Delft website avoid mentioning the most common form of student accommodation - is unacceptable. What Duwo must do immediately is to communicate the existence of shared-facilities student houses to the foreign students. Both sites should explain for instance what an instemming is (one of the most common ways for Dutch students to find housing in Delft), and also link the international students to the pool of available rooms in shared-facilities accommodations in Delft.Nowadays, with the existence of cheap hostels and free hosting networks, like couchsurfing.com, new international students arriving here from abroad have the option of arriving in Delft a month in advance and actually seeking out the housing solution that suits them best - whether permanent or temporary.The city of Delft should also show more concern for the huge amount of highly educated newcomers from abroad it welcomes every year. Delft's expats community provides the city with an immense international network of people who spend money here and pay taxes, as well boosting tourist revenues, since their friends and family members also come to visit them in Delft.It's time the city of Delft does something in return for the revenues it receives from international students and staff. All the parties involved - the TU, Duwo and the city of Delft - must sit down with the students and come up with fresh, innovative ideas for providing international students with the services they expect and deserve.

Over the past couple of years the number of international students at TU Delft has risen by around 20% every year, and this trend is expected to continue. Currently, there are approximately 2,000 international students in Delft. All these students need proper housing, but housing for international students is not always what international students would like it to be.According to the Monitor on Logistic Quality conducted in 2005, international students were definitely not impressed with the housing available in Delft: they graded the quality of housing as a woeful 4.8 out of 10.The average rent for international student housing is around 350 euros per month, and for that price many students complain that they really aren't getting what they want. For instance: 78% of the international students surveyed in the 'Delftsch Overleg' research study in 2004 said that they didn't want to live on their own, yet most of them do live alone, and this is simply because DUWO provides individual rooms.What Duwo should do is provide houses with more rooms per house, with a common room and shared facilities. This brings housemates together and is good for their social lives and improving their level of English. Because of the interaction with housemates, international students would have more enjoyable stays here and look back on their time in Delft more fondly, which is vital, since the TU expects foreign graduates to serve as 'ambassadors' of TU Delft, spreading the word among their fellow countrymen and women about what a great university this is.TU Delft will continue welcoming more and more international students, because the TU needs international students just as badly as the high-tech 'knowledge-intensive' economy the Dutch government wants to create here. Some research groups at the TU are completely dependant on foreign researchers and some faculties are also increasingly dependant on the influx from abroad.If TU Delft wants international students to keep coming here, and in increased numbers, it has to improve drastically the quality of the services they get - starting with housing. It's obvious that inadequate housing is the greatest problem foreign students are facing. It's just not right to ask for a tuition fee of 8,000 euro per year and provide small, relatively expensive, isolated, cell-like rooms in return.Stop-gapIn terms of equal opportunities, native Dutch students at TU Delft are in a much better position than international students. Dutch students often have relatives nearby where they can stay while looking for a proper room, or they can choose to live in Rotterdam or in Den Haag, traveling free on public transport. They don't have to sign a restrictive rental contract that doesn't allow them to move to another (better and cheaper) room if they find one.TU Delft and the Duwo have been saying for years that they cannot build cheap accommodations with shared facilities, because of government regulations. They also say that the binding rental contracts are necessary to prevent empty rooms.According to Dutch housing law, however, a tenant may leave the rented space within a reasonable term (usually one or two months). The TU has come up with a contract that allows it to rent the room de-facto to the students while not being a rental contract de-jure, so that the housing laws do not apply. By constructing the binding contract, which sails around the existing legislation, the TU Delft and Duwo have proven to be extremely inventive when they want to be. It seems it's not a question of 'cannot', but rather 'don't want to'.The plans to build extra hundreds of housing units are mostly welcome. However, in view of the current shortages on the market, the planned removal of the space-boxes and the increasing total numbers of students from abroad and from the Netherlands coming to Delft, the current plans are just stop-gap measures. The plans also disregard the stated wish of many international students to share facilities with others, a step that would reduce costs and increase social cohesion.The current situation - in which the English-language versions of the Duwo website and TU Delft website avoid mentioning the most common form of student accommodation - is unacceptable. What Duwo must do immediately is to communicate the existence of shared-facilities student houses to the foreign students. Both sites should explain for instance what an instemming is (one of the most common ways for Dutch students to find housing in Delft), and also link the international students to the pool of available rooms in shared-facilities accommodations in Delft.Nowadays, with the existence of cheap hostels and free hosting networks, like couchsurfing.com, new international students arriving here from abroad have the option of arriving in Delft a month in advance and actually seeking out the housing solution that suits them best - whether permanent or temporary.The city of Delft should also show more concern for the huge amount of highly educated newcomers from abroad it welcomes every year. Delft's expats community provides the city with an immense international network of people who spend money here and pay taxes, as well boosting tourist revenues, since their friends and family members also come to visit them in Delft.It's time the city of Delft does something in return for the revenues it receives from international students and staff. All the parties involved - the TU, Duwo and the city of Delft - must sit down with the students and come up with fresh, innovative ideas for providing international students with the services they expect and deserve.

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