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The Destructive Growth of UvA: an Overview of Causes

Protest against the University of Amsterdam’s growth, October 13, 2022.

Alejandro was just like any other student, wanting to pursue his studies in another country to explore a different culture and to pursue an education that would be of higher quality compared to the one he could get in his home country. His dream was to study Business Administration at the University of Amsterdam, but the harsh reality of the city’s housing situation soon struck him – Alejandro desperately searched for housing, only for his efforts to be repaid by countless rejections. Stories like Alejandro’s probably sound familiar to many of us coming from all sorts of study programs, who at one point or the other have found themselves in the situation of having to look for housing in this city; indeed, this story was featured in an article by Folia, another student magazine. The article, which came out at the end of August, reports on the experiences of three future UvA students that were not able to find a house. At the end, Alejandro was unfortunately forced to withdraw his UvA application because he couldn’t manage to find a house before the start of the academic year, despite studying at UvA being a dream of his. Lately, it has been clear to everyone involved that the university is facing issues that need immediate and effective solutions. From hundreds of homeless students to professors striking, the overall well-being of students and university staff is what’s at stake.

The behavior of the University itself regarding its policy is quite controversial. In 2022, the housing problem has become so pressing that in August the UvA made an official statement advising international students that still had not secured housing not to come to Amsterdam, since there was a high risk they would remain homeless for an indefinite period. To this day, the situation remains tense and students are ready to defend their interests. On Thursday, October 13th, a protest was held right outside the UvA against the current situation regarding primarily the issues that many students are facing due to the housing shortage. But the housing problem is just the tip of the iceberg. The root cause, which ultimately has an enormous impact on the quality of the education provided by the UvA, is unstoppable growth; in a European capital that is overcrowded not only with students, but also by working professionals, the UvA recognizes that its growth has to be stopped. In the midst of this, local Dutch students are currently having trouble securing a spot at the university and housing in Amsterdam because of the growing number of international students moving to the city. At the moment, the University is only able to provide housing for about half of the students applying. The current projection is that the UvA will have 55.000 students as of 2025 between Dutch and internationals. We have decided to investigate this growth – what led up to it, the tremendous effects it is having, and the possible applicable solutions to a worrisome situation.

Firstly, to understand the status quo, it is important to understand the inherent qualities of the university. The international outlook of the UvA is definitely one of its strengths. Since higher education in the UK comes with very high university fees, and Brexit has led many European students to resort to studying in other European cities, the much lower price point of studying at the UvA has attracted many international students not only from all over Europe but from all over the world.

Besides, UvA’s admission policy is less demanding compared to other European universities. However, the university plans on introducing a stricter admission policy for the programs of Political Science and Psychology in the upcoming year; at the same time, the PPLE program already has a more complex admission policy compared to other faculties. Nonetheless, many programs stay unchanged and the already large number of prospects continues to grow.

Overall, the attractive aspect of studying in such a vibrant European capital as Amsterdam, with many entertainment and job opportunities, the unique chance to be in an international environment which enriches the experiences, and the relatively low cost, less demanding admission policy of the UvA make Amsterdam the perfect city to study in. Yet, this all comes with a cost…

The points illustrated in this article provide a brief introduction to the causes of growth that the University of Amsterdam is currently facing, but they are obviously not exhaustive. Our printed edition coming out in November 2022 will provide the opportunity to gain wider insight and for a deep dive analysis into the topic of UvA’s growth. Stay tuned.


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