Housing Issues for International Students

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While exchange students are offered accomodation by the university, full-degree students at Roskilde University are left to their own devices when it comes to finding living arrangements. Having to find housing on their own in a foreign country proves a daunting challenge for many international students.

IDUN Kollegiet er af flere kollegier, der ligger i gåafstand fra RUC. Foto: Simon Freiesleben

IDUN Kollegiet is one of several student residences in walking distance from RUC. Foto: Simon Freiesleben

Relocating to another country is no easy task. The variety of challenges that people face are often masked by the excitement of a fresh, new, life in a different country. However, as an international at RUC, one of the most prominent issues that students face is that of the on-campus housing, or lack thereof.

As it stands, the University maintains a contract with USBOLIG, which allows the International Office to offer fully furnished accommodation to exchange students each semester. Thus, a majority of exchange students live in student residences near RUC, like Korallen, Kolibrien or Rockwool during their stay, if they have managed to arrange this with the International Office in sufficient time.

However, this option is currently unavailable to international full-degree students. Although international students face the same difficulties when relocating as exchange students, they are on their own when it comes to finding living arrangements. This includes making use of sites such as FindBolig.dk or Facebook groups, which can be a jungle to navigate even for danish students. Add in moving to Denmark for the first time, and that makes the challenging task of finding affordable housing even harder.

Messy, expensive rooms and long lines

In the autumn semester of 2014,  Mareike Ju, an international student at RUC, experienced firsthand the difficulties with finding housing. She spent her first weekend in Denmark in a different room, as the one that had been assigned to her was yet to be cleaned and much of the furniture was damaged. Furthermore, at first glance, the room appeared as if the previous owner was still present as articles of clothing, dishes, towels and boxers presented Mareike with a less-than-ideal welcome to Denmark.

Broken furniture, as well as dirty dishes and towels awaited Mareike Ju in her apartment. Foto: Mareike Ju.

Broken furniture, as well as dirty dishes and towels awaited Mareike Ju in her apartment. Foto: Mareike Ju.

Another RUC international, Kata Balint from Hungary, also faced her share of  challenges in the search for accommodation, before beginning her studies in 2013. Although the International Office makes efforts to help by means of providing links to a few housing portals, the students are mostly left to their own devices. Thus, issues such as the long waiting period, the distance of the accommodation from the University, and how to get there are often miscommunicated which leads to great frustration for the international students.

Because the dorms on campus are not owned directly by RUC, there is only so much that the university can do in order to alleviate the situation. When contacted for a comment regarding the issue, Team Leader Helle Søgaard noted that their offices remain in close contact with RUC’s Housing Foundation in order to provide accommodation for students on exchange. Furthermore, they also communicate any complaints that the International Office may receive in order to hinder a recurrence of such circumstances.

RUC is looking into improving the situation

Regarding the full-degree international students, Helle Søgaard said:

“We would like to offer housing for all international students, but unfortunately, dorm rooms are limited, and we have to prioritize students who are only here for a short stay. However, we are aware that full degree students are also in great need, so we plan to improve our guide on finding housing on your own to help this group of students.”

Further, Helle Søgaard added, the university is in contact with a building society in Roskilde about planning for new dorms and student apartments for international students in Roskilde.

As a new semester approaches, many hope to observe improvements in the current circumstances regarding student housing. Although efforts are being made to alleviate the situation, one of the main issues that remains is a lack of communication, as there are still many students who feel that the subject of housing issues is being unjustly ignored.

Comments

  1. Tobias 45.2 says:

    Small correction for you guys, it’s findbolig.nu not findbolig.dk 🙂
    Cheers, great article.

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