• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Here’re 4 countries where international students struggle to find homes

Here’re 4 countries where international students struggle to find homes

With an estimated 28 million housing units deficit as at 2023 and as low as 25 percent home ownership level, the housing situation in Nigeria is, unarguably, dire. The deficit is as pervasive as it is intractable such that even students in universities face accommodation challenges across board.

Curiously, BusinessDay findings and available reports show that the housing crisis, especially for students, is not peculiar to Nigeria, as international students, including Nigerians, in other countries of the world face similar accommodation problems that make finding a home a major project.

Some of these countries where international students struggle to find homes are Australia, the UK, Germany, and Canada. Like Nigeria, the major cause of the accommodation difficulties students face in these countries is caused by growing student population or rising school enrollment.

Australia

This country is currently witnessing a substantial upswing in the enrolment of international students, with a total of 613,217 students, as of March 2023, marking a 27-percent increase from the previous year.

This surge in global demand for education, according to a report on ‘Beyond Beds: Decoding Australia’s Student Housing Market,’ has created an urgent need for affordable and high-quality student accommodation.

The report estimates that Australia has over 60,000 beds across 42 universities, managed by university and corporate entities just like what universities in Nigeria are doing along with private developers like Accommod8 which has provided over 4,500 beds across three locations.

“Key players in purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), alongside smaller regional entities, manage approximately 90,000 beds. Of these PBSA beds, 26 percent are occupied by domestic students, with the remainder utilized by international students,” the report says, adding that private rentals and homestays, constituting an unorganized market, offer around 360,000 and 100,000 beds, respectively.

UK

In this country, international students are also grappling with a severe housing crisis, and are being forced to accept subpar living conditions due to escalating rents and the high cost of university accommodation.

A Nigerian student who identified herself simply as Amarachi confirmed to BusinessDay that finding accommodation in London where she has gone for her Masters programme along with her husband is an uphill task, explaining that until they had their baby, five months after arrival, they could not secure accommodation.

“It is not only that houses are scarce; they are also too expensive and, for students, the situation is really bad because you have a lot of things to contend with. The only thing that has made me think less about Nigeria now is that this place is organised. Everybody works with time,” Amarachi said.

A report by the BBC says students from countries like India and Bangladesh are finding it exceptionally challenging to secure affordable housing in London, as they lack the necessary references and payslips typically required for rental agreements.

The report quoted one of the students from Bangladesh pursuing a law degree in London who revealed how he shared a cramped two-bedroom flat with 20 other men, adding that the student resorted to this arrangement because university accommodation was prohibitively expensive, and he couldn’t find suitable housing elsewhere.

Germany

Though Germany is a country with thriving economy, it has a worsening housing crisis, which is why tens of thousands of students in Germany have been unable to find accommodation.

A Nigerian lady who resigned from her well-paying job in Ikoyi, Lagos and ‘japaed’ to study in Germany related her harrowing experience to this reporter, saying she could not find a home to live in six months of after arrival.

“I was advised to look for accommodation in one of the remote areas outside the city and to make commuting to school easy, I was also advised to buy a bicycle which would take me to where I could catch up a train. This I did for almost another six months when I was able to find a Nigeria medical doctor who guaranteed me for a house to rent,” the lady said.

In this country, some students are able to rent a place using a financial guarantee from their parents, but it’s especially difficult for international students because they often aren’t able to provide such a guarantee.

Canada

This is a country where foreigners generally find it difficult to find homes because of its persisting housing crisis which also weighs heavily on international students. Its situation is such that many foreigners find homes in odd places such as streets and cemeteries.

The housing crisis in the country has led to significant changes in regulations for international students. For instance, in August 2023, the country’s Minister of Housing, Sean Fraser, proposed limiting the number of international students as a solution to rising housing costs. This measure, which had been the subject of debate, has become a reality in February 2024.