Students demand affordable housing in the Netherlands 

Projects to expand student housing in the Kronenburg suburb of Amsterdam have been blocked by the government, citing noise pollution by aircrafts around Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

February 16, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Students' Protest - Amsterdam (1)
Student protest in Uilenstede on February 14, 2023. (Photo: Wessel Wierda via

Students in the Netherlands are continuing their years-long struggle for affordable housing. On Tuesday, February 14, students organized a protest at Uilenstede in Amstelveen, a suburb of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.

The students, mobilized by the General Student Association Amsterdam (ASVA) and Free University Students Union (SRVU), have accused the government of blocking construction of more than 4,000 houses in Kronenburg near Uilenstede, a student district in the city. Activists from the Communist Youth Movement (CJB) were also present at the mobilization and extended their support to the students.

According to reports, the municipality of Amstelveen’s plans to expand the student campus in Uilenstede by constructing 2,500 student houses and another 1,500 houses for international students in Kronenburg were blocked by the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) in 2018 and Council of State in 2022, citing the expected noise pollution from aircraft from the adjacent Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. 

Students in the city, already enduring a housing crunch and a cost of living crisis, are outraged at this argument. They say that the student district of Uilenstede is already exposed to noise from low-flying aircraft around Schiphol and that they can’t understand the logic behind the Council of State’s current ‘recognition’ of noise pollution when the expansion of student housing in the city is being proposed.

While addressing the mobilization on Tuesday, Pieter van Rossum, former chairman of the Free University Students Union (SRVU), said that Minister of Infrastructure Mark Harbers was prioritizing Schiphol over student housing. “Everyone knows that rents in Amsterdam are not a natural disaster, but a consequence of bad, neoliberal policies,” he added.

Over the last two years, student-youth groups, community organizations, trade unions, and progressive political parties have formed city-based housing rights coalitions such as #Woonstrijd in Groningen, #Woonprotest in Amsterdam, #Woonopstand in Rotterdam, and #Woonverzet in the Hague, and organized massive mobilizations across the Netherlands demanding affordable housing. In 2021, progressive sections in the city of Groningen launched a couch surfing initiative, the Shelter Our Students (SOS) campaign, to help homeless students in the city. 

The housing crisis is currently coupled with an acute cost of living crisis marked by skyrocketing fuel and food prices. Last year, bids by the University of Amsterdam (UvA) to invite more international students to take admission in the university, without sufficient teachers, lecture halls, and hostels, also faced protest from student-youth groups. 

On February 14, the Amsterdam Committee of the Communist Youth Movement (CJB) stated that “the government has long failed to house the population of Amsterdam, because the profits of the monopolies and big landlords are more important than the students, the youth of the working class.” The CJB has demanded that the government immediately give permission to start the expansion of the student district.