On Thursday, October 13, students and youth groups in Amsterdam demonstrated against the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) failure to provide enough facilities even as it seeks to admit more international students. The students said there was an acute shortage of facilities, staff and infrastructure. The protest was called by the General Student Association Amsterdam (ASVA). Activists from various youth groups including the Communist Youth Movement of Netherlands (CJB) participated in the protest. The protesters alleged that international students are brought to the Netherlands under false promises but then have to struggle to find housing and proper facilities after arrival.
Students, youth groups, community organizations, trade unions, and progressive political parties in the Netherlands have formed coalitions demanding housing rights, such as #Woonstrijd in Groningen, #Woonprotest in Amsterdam, #Woonopstand in Rotterdam, and #Woonverzet in Hague. These coalitions have been organizing major mobilizations demanding housing rights. In November last year, progressive sections in Groningen launched the Shelter Our Students (SOS) campaign, a couch surfing initiative to help homeless students in the city. In September, youth/student groups under the banner of SOS Groningen occupied the academy building of the University of Groningen to protest the acute housing crisis faced by students.
The housing crisis, with students being among the worst hit, is coupled with an acute cost of living crisis marked by skyrocketing fuel and food prices. In such a situation, the bid by the University of Amsterdam to invite more international students to take admission in the university, without sufficient teachers, lecture halls and hostels, has irked student unions and youth groups in the city.
On October 13, the Amsterdam committee of the Communist Youth Movement (CJB) stated, “the University of Amsterdam (UvA) wants to expand the number of international students, while there are not enough facilities such as halls, staff or housing. International students are brought to the Netherlands under false pretenses, but have to struggle with greedy landlords and lower quality education upon arrival. At the same time, the staff is exploited to the bone, as a result, they barely have any more time to be able to provide proper education.”
“All of this is the result of the capitalist way of production, where the university and housing corporations have to compete for the highest profits, instead of working together on a central plan. In a socialist society, an increase in the number of international students, who themselves can offer valuable insights and other perspectives, would be accompanied by planned construction of housing and expansion of facilities and the staff of the university,” the CJB added.