Students already worried about next term housing
Swedish universities are about to let out for the summer, but administrators and student unions are already discussing how to house students when school starts again in the fall.
Mattias Mitz, head of communications at Umeå University, told Radio Sweden that even today, administrators were meeting to talk about the issue.
The housing shortage is a well-known and documented problem throughout Sweden, which many say is getting worse. But the housing crisis has a heightened impact on students, because they need a place to live by the time school starts.
The average wait time for a first-hand rental contract for student housing in the Stockholm region was 5.5 years in 2015, slightly up from the year before (5.2), according to the Stockholm City housing agency, called Bostadsförmedlingen. That wait is often longer than the length of the program a student is enrolled in, which means they have to queue in advance.
Jessica Borssén is from Stockholm and has studied at Stockholm University for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Even after she began her studies, she had to wait years before receiving a student apartment from Stockholm's Housing Agency. While she was waiting to rent an apartment of her own, she lived with her parents. But international students don't have that luxury.
Zara Ruiter, a master's student at Stockholm University from the Netherlands, told Radio Sweden that it was especially difficult to find housing as a foreign student.
"I started looking for housing before I came here but it didn't really work out . . . After 200 days, I was kind of lucky and got a room," Zara told Radio Sweden.
The lack of student accommodation in Sweden is not a new problem.
Veronica Sällemark is the Vice President of Stockholm's Federation of Student Unions. She says that the lack of housing in Stockholm has been an on-going problem since the '90s and was created because government policies did not prioritize the issue.
Andreas Sjöö, the President of the Gothenburg Union of Students, agrees that the problem continues to compound every year. He says that as the numbers of people pursuing higher education increase, there is more and more of a need to provide student housing.
"For every year that we don't do something the crisis will get even worse," he told Radio Sweden.
There is no immediate solution when it comes to guaranteeing housing for students but both Sällemark and Sjöö believe that the issue needs to be prioritized on a national and local level.
“Higher education should be available to everyone, not just those already living in the region, those with money, or those with a network.” Sällemark said.