Student housing in Flamman.Since Annika Samuelsson began work as property manager for Kårservice, the student union service centre, in 2010 the pressure on accommodation has increased each year.
“But in 2014 the trend broke – demand stopped going up. And this year it’s the same, demand is more or less the same as last year. We seem to have peaked and levelled out.”
The shortage of student accommodation in Sweden has been confirmed in another report from SFS, the Swedish National Union of Students. But Linköping is the exception among the major student cities. Here, students can expect to find accommodation during their first term. The same goes for students in Norrköping, even if that is not considered to be a major student city.
“We reached the peak of the crisis this week,” Ms Samuelsson says. “Now things are sorting themselves out for most students, and many have housing from 1 September.
Annika Samuelsson, property manager of KårserviceThis is the time, around the beginning of the autumn term, when the problem is greatest. Old students retaking exams are still living in the housing as new ones arrive. And the foreign students are also arriving now.
“It’s hardest for the foreign students to find accommodation,” Ms Samuelsson says. “They don’t have any contacts, or a Swedish personal ID number, they can’t come here in advance to look and frequently only want to live here for a short period.”
For them and others who haven’t found housing, there is ‘emergency accommodation’. That’s the last resort. Up to 15 students may have to cram in together in a three-room flat, many on air mattresses.
“In Norrköping there is only a handful of students staying in emergency accommodation,” Ms Samuelsson says. “In Linköping we are looking at about 60 in these first weeks, but never more than 30 at the same time.”
Sign about new student roomsUp through the autumn of 2014, Norrköping had a housing guarantee for students. This guaranteed has been withdrawn, but Ms Samuelsson says it’s easier to find accommodation in Norrköping than in Linköping.
“This is the first time Kårservice has had an accommodation office in Norrköping. But we’ve found that there are fewer visits and fewer calls in Norrköping than in Linköping.”
In fact it’s only in the weeks just before the start of the autumn term that you can talk about a shortage of student accommodations in Linköping. During the spring term there are even student rooms lying empty. Samuelsson is crossing her fingers that the plateau trend will continue up through 2017.
“We’ll be getting several hundred new student apartments then, both in Irrblosset and in the new Vallastaden. That will ease the pressure quite a bit. But we would still love to hear from anyone who might be able to rent out a room for a few weeks at the beginning of the autumn term.”
The accommodation situation for students at LiU is difficult but not impossible. Demand has levelled out. And several hundred new apartments are expected within the next few years.