While countries like the US and the UK claimed to have given more visas to Indians this year, finding accommodation in the cities where they have their colleges or universities has become a problem for international students. After the coronavirus pandemic disrupted students’ plans to study abroad, they have now started flying out of the country amid eased visa policy and declining Covid-19 cases.
Some of the students said they have to postpone their plans to join for the current semester or struggle to find places to stay in the countries where they have chosen to study.
A student, who recently received an acceptance letter from a UK university, said he will now join classes next semester. “I was supposed to join this September, but when I got my acceptance letter, the campus accommodation was already booked. Some told me I shouldn’t have waited, but I didn’t want to book before I got my acceptance letter. It would have been too big a financial risk,” Anmol said.
A report by global student housing company, University Living, shows that there has been a 60% increase in accommodation requirements among students compared to last year. “Reasons for this increase include the global housing crisis, supply challenges, construction challenges during the lockdown, the impact of inflation, and declining plan/project viability that have resulting in the redefinition of capital investments,” the report states.
Vibha Kagzi, founder and CEO of study abroad consultancy ReachIvy.com, said the same problem is being seen in off-campus accommodation as well. “Delays in visa approval lead to delays in the move-in process. As most students avoid paying for off-campus rooms before getting visa approval, this leads to higher accommodation prices due to last-minute bookings,” Kazi said.
Sara David Thottapalli, who is pursuing a master’s degree in Communication and Information Sciences at Tilburg University, lives in a shared independent house 11 km from her university and pays €900 a month in rent. “There is a general housing crisis in the Netherlands and the university cannot do anything about it. They said they are not responsible for the accommodation. Even after sending the offer letter, they said “please accept only if you have accommodation,” Thottapalli said indianexpress.com.
Thottapalli said it is easier for local students to find a place to live compared to international students. “The reason for this is the communication gap and not racism. Many owners think it’s easier to communicate in the local language instead of English,” he added.
Radhika Deshpande, who completed a diploma from Germany, also said that such situations can be avoided by sharing a flat with local students. “I share an independent house with two other girls, one of whom is German and the other French. Our landlady mainly communicated with our German friend. It was even easier for us to find a place because of her as the local owners trusted her more than us and had a guarantee,” said Deshpande.
Popular countries, less houses
A recent report by the Swedish National Union of Students said that approximately 64% of international students take more than a semester to find accommodation and almost 24% can find it within a month of starting the course.
Housing issues are being highlighted in major cities in countries like Canada and UK, which are most preferred by Indian students. “All accommodation close to university campuses in the UK is booked in all major cities such as Bristol, Edinburgh and Glasgow. With inflation and rising room rents and a lack of student accommodation, students are ‘they have to go back to live in cities close to the cities where their universities are located, sometimes 40 minutes away by train,’ said Saurabh Arora, co-founder. and CEO, University Life.
The increase in the number of students heading to the UK for higher education has been directly proportional to the increase in housing problems. In the UK, the problem increased when the country reached its target of admitting 6,000 international students almost 10 years early, experts said.
“From July to date in September, we’ve seen about a five-fold increase in accommodation applicants. There’s also been an increase in undergraduates and this has left campus accommodation full capacity Indeed, incoming university students from some universities in cities such as Glasgow, Manchester and London and some cities in Scotland have lost their university accommodation due to the influx of students. many late applicants have been asked to try again for next year’s intake, some have even been offered accommodation in nearby cities no less than an hour away from their respective universities,” Arora added.
Find a way out
When asked what students should do to avoid the housing problem, experts said they should be proactive. “Students should prepare well in advance and start exploring options as soon as colleges decide to open applications and not wait until the last day or deadline,” said Sumeet Jain, co-founder of Yocket.
Some experts have also suggested contacting other Indian aspirants and planning accordingly. Most universities also encourage international students from the same country or city to contact each before joining classes.
“Students should also consider renting apartments that they can share with other students and that offer a partial refund in case they face a visa delay or look for accommodations that allow them to defer their rental agreement.” Kagzi from ReachIvy.com. said