President: Lack of student housing limits internationalization

Skrevet af Jannick Friis ChristensenFelix Kasperek - Foto: Henning Larsens Tegnestuer. - 14. maj 2013 - 17:440 kommentarer
Illustration of Amager Fælled Urban Gardens, part of the planned international student city. Click on the red arrow for more illustrations.

CBS’ internationalization is threatened by the lack of student housing in Copenhagen. The International Office is constantly struggling to get international students places to stay.

No housing, no international students
Not enough student housing in Copenhagen and the fact that CBS can’t provide exchange students with a housing guarantee is, according to president Per Holten Andersen, currently the most limiting factor of the internationalization of CBS.

Prestigious business schools won’t enter into foreign exchange agreements without a guarantee for student housing and international students stay away when they can’t find a place to stay.

- The lack of a housing guarantee has led to worries from a number of partner universities with whom we have exchange agreements, says Tom Dahl-Østergaard, who’s sure that CBS would be able to attract more international students if the housing situation in Copenhagen improved.

Foreign exchange partners nervous about housing situation
In the beginning of the semester last year, over 10,000 Danish and foreign students were on a waitlist to housing, just in the greater Copenhagen area.

At CBS, The International Office (TIO) fights hard at the beginning of every semester to find housing for the international students.

In the fall semester lf 2012 CBS welcomed 718 exchange students from the many partner universities, while there was only 403 places of housing to offer. 147 found housing from private providers and another 69 found housing through, a housing portal for students.

- We like to remind our partners that we always succeed in finding housing for everyone who contacts us. And that’s in spite of the fact that some of them didn’t contact us until a week before the beginning of the semester, says Tom Dahl-Østergaard.

Roughly a hundred students chose not to seek assistance through CBS Housing Department last year. Tom Dahl-Østergaard hopes that at least the same number will find housing for themselves next year, where CBS will only have 359 spots to offer.

More students, no more housing
The need for housing is not quite as bad in the spring semester, where CBS usually welcomes fewer students. At the moment approx. 500 exchange students are enrolled.

Even though TIO hasn’t had problems getting students housing in the spring semesters historically, Tom Dahl-Østergaard still predicts that the gap between the 359 housing places and the 500 students can get bigger quickly.

- The number of students is growing and at the same time, CBS and the politicians wants more CBS students to go on foreign exchange, says Tom Dahl-Østergaard, but points out:

- Regarding foreign exchange, an increasing number of CBS students spending a semester abroad must mean a similar increase in numbers of students coming to CBS.

Structural problem in exchange damages the budget
The unequal distribution of exchange students at CBS in the fall and spring semester, respectively, gives rise to a structural problem that can hurt the budget.

An agreement for a dorm room doesn’t just give CBS the right to assign a student to the room; CBS also commits to paying for the room the entire year – even if it’s empty.

- Paying for empty rooms is obviously less than ideal, but it’s actually also quite unethical in a time where many students can’t find a place to live in Copenhagen, says Tom Dahl-Østergaard.

That’s why he thinks the best scenario for CBS would be if they could balance the number of foreign exchange students, so the number is throughout the year and the number of dorm rooms can be adjusted accordingly.

President: the cities don’t do enough
Tom Dahl-Østergaard supports president Per Holten Andersens worries regarding the students’ housing situation, which keeps Copenhagen from being recognized internationally as a university city, says the president.

- I don’t think the region, primarily the City of Copenhagen does enough. Actually, they’ve done very little, is the blunt statement from president Per Holten, who’ve tried to get the city interested in the issue for a long time.

That’s why he actively supports an initiative that’ll create an international city with housing for 5,000 students in the Ørestads region of Amager, inspired by the French example from the 1920’s: Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris.

Student city with housing for 5.000 will help immensely
The new project that aims to build a student city with housing for 5,000 will make a big difference, so Copenhagen can become a well reputed university city while making life easier for TIO.

- I’m a proponent of the initiative and I’ve supported it from the beginning because I believe in it, says Per Holten Andersen.
Per Holten-Andersen sees the project as an excellent solution for the lack of housing in Copenhagen. In order to help the project get underway, he’s allocated funds for a student employee that only works with ISCC.

In June, CBS OBSERVER will interview the man behind the ISCC project, Jørgen Rossen, who will present the master plan for a project that will hopefully mean the end of the housing shortage for Danish and foreign students and make the Ørestad region attractive as a Nordic metropolis for education and research.