According to the University of Luxembourg, the approximately 1,100 university-managed housing units are completely full. Photo: Lala La Photo/archives
In response to what it’s calling a “crisis scenario”, the University of Luxembourg has launched an appeal to the public to help accommodate some 300 students currently waitlisted for housing.
In its Friday press statement, the university acknowledged that “while the planned opening of additional residential units will bring some relief”, the approximately 1,100 university-managed flats and housing units were maxed out. It added that most of the waiting students were international.
“Both the students and the university suffer the effects of an overheated housing market which threatens to become an insurmountable obstacle for many students’ ambitions,” university rector Stéphane Pallage said in the statement.
But over the weekend, plenty took to social media to express their outrage over the university’s appeal, with one user stating that “asking the citizens to solve it is beyond degrading…Should have been a main concern of the state a long time ago.”
Extra pressure on non-EU students
The uni’s head of communications, Jean-Paul Hoffmann, told Delano on Monday that this was an “exceptional situation”, partly due to the fact that there had been a recent increase in international student candidates.
“The reputation of the university has become better, visibility has grown,” he said, citing the university’s standing in international rankings as possibility playing a part in this. Hoffmann added that--taking housing out of the equation--the cost of studying in Luxembourg tended to be “much more interesting than in other countries”.
Nevertheless, Hoffmann added there is “particular pressure on non-European candidates”, who are required to have a physical address in Luxembourg in order to get their residency permit which, in turn, is required for enrolment.
In the university’s own managed student housing, about 50% were EU students, 45% non-EU and 5-6% Luxembourgers--at least, that was the snapshot using 2018 figures, according to Hoffmann. When asked whether this criteria could change in future, he explained the situation is complicated. “Whichever set of criteria you apply, you give the impression you’re discriminating against someone.”
The market’s “coming to a head”
The appeal, while hitting a nerve on social media, was only one of a number of measures the university had and is taking to alleviate the situation.
“For weeks and weeks, we were telling students who came in that the housing situation is tight in Luxembourg, tight in the university-managed residencies, and they absolutely need to look for options in the commercial market,” Hoffmann said on 16 September.
And, like Pallage, he acknowledges “the tightness of the commercial market, which is now coming to a head.”
The good news: already over the weekend, the appeal had been met with some positive response, but not enough. The situation should be somewhat alleviated after the roughly 40 student residency accommodations hit the market in the coming weeks, adds Hoffmann, but the university plans on continuing to have “high-level working meetings” with key stakeholders (ministries, communes, etc.) to find a longer term solution.
Anyone with suitable accommodation for these students are asked to contact the emergency service arranged by the university by emailing [email protected] or calling (+352) 46 66 44 6610.