The results of two-year research conducted under ESN-led HousErasmus+ project were recently published in a report titled “At home in Europe. Accommodate international students!”. The report provides a comprehensive picture of the status quo of international student housing in Europe, main trends, challenges as well as potential solutions, put forward through a set of recommendations and good practice booklet. Report data stem from thorough literature review, the surveying of main stakeholder groups (international students and trainees, university international relations offices, student organisations, housing providers and policymakers) and study visits to 10 universities.
The results show that the housing situation for international students is neither encouraging nor simple. Apart from not being high on the priority agenda, student housing is an area where key stakeholders in many countries do not cooperate, or not enough at least, and where the perceptions of the seriousness of this issue vary greatly. Finding affordable and quality accommodation is reported as problematic by 45% of Erasmus+ students and 56% of trainees, sometimes for a lack of information or guidance, sometimes for insufficient supply of accommodation or for insufficient financial support in the mobility period, accommodation representing the major share of the cost implied. Below are the main issues that the report highlights:
- Lack of awareness among stakeholders of the challenges mobile students encounter
- Need for more cooperation among key stakeholders
- Lack of quality information on available accommodation
- Quality assurance, discrimination and attempted fraud
- Financial burden of mobility and the large proportion accommodation represents
- Insufficient student housing for international students and competition with local student population
- Contracting issues with short-term accommodation
- Language barrier and cultural differences
- Particularly challenging situation for trainees without a receiving higher education institution
For each of the issues, the report features cases of good practice identified in the course of research, and puts forward recommendations for improving the housing situation for international students and trainees.