Among other issues faced by international students in Europe during these turbulent times, accommodation is one of the biggest. While some are able to stay in campus housing, others are being asked to leave. Many are also unable to pay rent as they have lost their part-time jobs because of the pandemic.
If you’re an international student paying rent in Europe, you can certainly try asking for a refund or discount.
According to a survey by The Class of 2020, “40 percent of the operators indicated that they allowed students that returned home to cancel their contracts, while 24 percent state they are providing a rent-free period and 17 percent are providing discounts, indicating that the operators are recognising the challenges of the students.”
The survey respondents represented 38 organisations who are the key players in the student accommodation industry, including the leading operators, investors, suppliers, associations and universities across Europe.
It was also found that operators are taking other measures such as including “perks for bookers of rooms next year, free internet, rent deferrals, and repositioning to focus on domestic students”.
So if you’re an international student in Europe, do check with your landlord or provider if you are eligible for any of this too.
Accommodation providers in Europe urged to be more supportive of international students
The PIE News noted that international students in Europe are facing different levels of difficulty when it comes to housing depending on their funding.
For some who have been asked to evacuate residence halls, they have been provided temporary accommodation such as hotel rooms. But for those who rely on part-time income to pay their rent, the situation is very different.
Gohar Hovhannisyan, vice-president of The European Students’ Union, told The PIE News, “It’s a terrible situation. Our national student unions are trying to reach out to their local authorities, to institutions and to landlords but this doesn’t necessarily help.”
“It’s destroying students’ whole experience … It creates a lot of negative feelings and this will be very, very hard to recover from. The international dimension of education will find it hard to recover.”
“The only thing now that can be done to support students is for the government to call upon the landlords and accommodation providers to be more supportive.”
For international students under the Erasmus+ funding, they will be able to use their stipulated funding in cases where they are still required to continue paying rent, so they won’t need to pay out of pocket.
But for those who are privately funded — such as from their parents, study abroad programmes, or relying on part-time jobs — they will need to appeal to their landlords for refunds or discounts.
Hovhannisyan said, “In most of the countries, there is no general regulation … so it’s very much upon the individuals to negotiate it and come up with a solution.
“The role of the agencies or institutions who have organised international study experiences for students is crucial. They need to realise that they have a certain responsibility of supporting students to solve this situation,” she added.