Ghent lacks the housing for an additional 10,000 students

Study finds Ghent needs extra housing for students

Study finds Ghent needs extra housing for students

34,000 more students have come to Ghent in the past 20 years, yet the city has built only 3,800 units of housing

On Monday, 5 July, the City of Ghent published the preliminary results of a study on student housing that they had previously commissioned. Alderman of Housing Tine Heyse, commented on the results, saying that additional housing would be needed for 10,000 students.

The study was conducted by Mpiris in collaboration with Leidsman and the Student Council of Ghent and it has some key insights into the needs, habits, trends and preferences when it comes to the type, price and location of the accommodations.

An influx of new people in the city that need housing

In the past 20 years around 34,000 additional students have come to Ghent while just 3,800 units of student housing were constructed during the same period, revealing a clear disbalance that now the city is trying to rectify. To explore the issue further, Mpiris and Leidsman ran the study in November and December of 2020 and collaborated with the Ghent Student Council so that they can reach a wider sample and increase the accuracy of their findings.

In particular, some of the goals of the first major study in student housing were mapping the housing needs of the students and deepening a global vision of the city’s student housing policy. This resulted in the establishment of five principles for the future development of the city as both a student city and a residential city:

  • Sufficiently regulated student housing;
  • Students and residents live together in harmony;
  • Students live in student housing provided for this purpose;
  • Student housing is safe and of high quality;
  • The student housing policy is effective and efficient.

These are some of the interesting conclusions of the study

For the most part, students rent in Ghent (59%), which rounds up to 41,000 people. 36% commute from out of town and 6% live with their parents in the city. Nearly a quarter of the students live in an apartment or a family house, making up about 3,700 residential units.

At the same time, those who want to live in Ghent consider that the most important factors for an ideal home are the price, the location (close to the campus) and the facilities (kitchen, sanitary).

When it comes to the cost, a regular room on the private market sits at an average of 415 euros. For a shared apartment students pay about 420 euros per person and 376 euros per person if renting a family house. The average cost for someone in large-scale student accommodation is 493 euros in the private market but if the student housing is linked to an educational institution the figure drops to 347 euros.

Despite the cost, about half of the students in Ghent rent a room on the private market and around half of the surveyed prefer it this way. Furthermore, almost a quarter share an apartment or family home and the remaining 29% live in large-scale student housing with just over a quarter citing that this is their preferred mode of living.

International students stand in contrast to the general trends observed in the survey. Large-scale student housing is the most popular form of living among them. Half of the international students prefer that option while more than a quarter live in an apartment or family home. Only 18% live in a regular room on the private market.

Alderman of Housing Tine Heyse was quoted in a press release summarizing the conclusions of the information and pointing out the need for the construction of housing for an additional 10,000 students.  

She continued: “We must focus on building an additional supply of specific student housing. This will benefit both the residents of Ghent and the students in terms of affordability, conflict reduction and housing quality. We want to invest even further to allow students and residents to live together in harmony.”

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