Science - September 8, 2005

Erasmus students temporarily homeless

Sixty Erasmus students who heard last week that there was no accommodation available for them in Wageningen, will all be given rooms this week. Wageningen University and SSHW managed to come to an agreement last Friday.

About sixty Erasmus students got a shock when they received an e-mail on Wednesday 31 August from their Erasmus coordinator in Wageningen asking them not to travel to Wageningen. The negotiations between Wageningen University and the student accommodation office SSHW concerning temporary use of rooms in the Rijnsteeg apartment building broke down at the last minute, resulting in too few rooms available. Students that came to Wageningen any way might have to return home, the coordinator warned.

In the end things did not get that far. Temporary accommodation was found for the students who arrived last week in De Paasberg hotel in Ede. And on Friday the university and SSHW managed to agree on the use of the Rijnsteeg apartments. This apartment building is due to be demolished next year, and SSHW therefore wanted guarantees that the Erasmus students will all have vacated the building by the end of December.

Wageningen University spokesman Simon Vink would not go into the reason for the breakdown of the negotiations. ‘In the end the problem was solved, albeit somewhat late I admit.’

By the end of this week all exchange students will have a furnished room in Wageningen. SSHW has put spare furniture in rooms in a number of buildings including Rijnsteeg. Vice-director of the SSHW, Jan Harkema, emphasises that this is a temporary solution. ‘We have come up with an emergency solution to the problem by housing students in Rijnsteeg until the end of the year. Before then, though, we expect to be able to re-house those who are staying longer in a regular room.’ The university is taking care of moving the students and their possessions from the hotel to their room in Wageningen.

Esther Heemskerk, one of the four Erasmus coordinators, said that the problems had not caused panic. ‘Of course the situation was not very pleasant, but most of the students were very sporting in their reactions. There was even one French girl who suggested bringing her parents’ caravan along. But I am very relieved that the problem has now been solved.’ / JH

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