Manifesto of the Dutch-speaking universities and colleges in Brussels

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022 — The issue of student housing, which has been particularly topical in recent weeks, is also a problem in the capital. With more than 100,000 students, Brussels is the largest student city in the country. Brik, the Flemish association of Dutch-speaking universities and colleges in Brussels, including the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, has drawn up a manifesto with recommendations.

"It is urgent time for action," explains Brik director Jurgen Ral. "If we don’t sit down with all parties quickly and draw up a clear plan, a crisis is looming within the student housing sector."

Due to the maze of unclear rules, many existing (and often affordable) rooms are disappearing from the market.

Ral: "That is why we are asking the government of the Brussels-Capital Region to draw up a clear legal framework in the short term that commits to affordable and high-quality rooms."

In recent years, private investors have stepped in to compensate for the shortage of dorms, but they mainly create rooms in the luxury segment. In Brussels, for example, a room costs an average of 490 a month.

"The cost of student housing is about one third of the total living and study costs of a student," says Ral. "If we want to keep studying in Brussels democratic, student rooms should be affordable. We therefore ask investors to develop more basic rooms with shared facilities."

The 19 Brussels municipalities can also play a role in the dossier.

"Align the municipal rules with those of the region," says Ral. "Currently, all those rules differ, which makes it very difficult for smaller dorm managers to invest in their premises and meet all the requirements. Investing in student housing is investing in the Brussels of today and tomorrow. With our recommendations, we are extending a hand to all partners to take up this challenge together."

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