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Housing is essential if Amsterdam wants to compete with great cities around the world and attract talented people. The University of Amsterdam (UvA) and VU University Amsterdam have therefore joined forces with Amsterdam’s HBO institutes to develop a document setting out their vision.

There has been a marked rise in the number of students enrolled at Amsterdam's institutes of higher education. The number of full-time students in Amsterdam is expected to increase by around 22,000 over the next five years. An increase in students means an increase in demand for housing. If Amsterdam wishes to compete with other great cities of the world, it has to attract talented people from throughout the country and around the world. Housing is an essential part of this. The University of Amsterdam (UvA) and VU University Amsterdam have therefore joined forces with Amsterdam's HBO institutes (higher education with an applied emphasis) to develop a document setting out their vision, entitled 'Studying in a Top City' (Studeren in de Topstad). The document analyses the demand for housing during the 2010-2014 academic period and at the same time issues an appeal to all stakeholders. On Friday, 12 March, the document will be officially presented during an event bringing together education institutes, students, politicians and housing providers.

The need for an additional 7,600 accommodation units for the 2006-2010 academic period was already identified back in 2006. Of that figure, 4,200 have yet to be realised. Rising numbers of students for the 2010-2014 period will see demand for housing increase even further. Amsterdam's institutes of higher education expect that the number of full-time students could rise from around 87,100 in the 2008/2009 academic year to 109,000 students in 2014/2015: an increase of some 22,000 students. This translates to a need for at least 9,900 additional housing units in 2014, with 3,200 of those units required for international students. For foreign doctoral candidates, some 240 additional housing units are expected to be needed between now and 2014. If it does not act on this need, Amsterdam will fail to attract the most talented people, both from the Netherlands and abroad. All of these estimates have been validated by RIGO Research and Advice.

Collective effort

The vision document was initiated by the UvA and VU University Amsterdam, in conjunction with the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, University of Applied Sciences (HvA), INHolland University of Applied Sciences, the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and the Amsterdam School of the Arts. Student housing is a shared concern for many of the city's stakeholders. A collective effort is required to ensure that future cohorts of national and international talent can be accommodated in the city. In the development of the vision document, these institutions held intensive consultations with housing corporations, Amsterdam's various districts, the city councils of Amsterdam, Diemen and Amstelveen, political representatives, student bodies and unions, and other stakeholders. Amsterdam's city council has been a leading voice in this process and, in response to the findings of the various educational institutes, has come up with its Plan of Approach for Student Accommodation 2009-2014. Councillor Gerson received the vision document on Tuesday, 16 February, 2010.

The vision document sets out not just the expected number of students and the associated demand for housing in 2010-2014, but also explores why providing students with accommodation is worthwhile. Broadly speaking, students make a significant contribution to the regional economy. This contribution has been estimated by the independent research organisation TNO to be 25,000 euros a year on average. At the same time, students are also crucial to Amsterdam on a social and cultural level.

Presentation of vision document

The vision document Studying in a Top City will be officially presented at 16:30 on Friday, 12 March, in the Comedy Theatre Amsterdam. The gathering will bring together Amsterdam's institutes of higher education, student representatives (including from the ASVA student union), city politicians (from the districts and council), housing corporations, commercial student housing providers and property developers. A public debate will follow the presentation, and Amsterdam's councillor for public housing Hans Gerson will receive a symbolic cheque for 55 million euros from the student unions and education institutes. This sum represents the economic value to Amsterdam of the new students expected during the 2010-2014 period (22,000 new students at 25,000 euros each).