Growing student housing shortages

In recent years it has become clear that the Dutch student housing sector is facing structural shortages.

The two maps below provide insight into the current situation and the expected developments for the coming seven years. Although 13,000 units are expected to be added in 34 projects in the next five years, the national shortage as a result of the growing (international) student population in the Netherlands is expected to rise to 32,000 homes by the 2026-2027 academic year.

The shortages and how they are developing vary greatly per student city. Absolute shortages in Amsterdam and Rotterdam will increase, but due to the increase in student numbers in these cities the shortages will remain stable in terms of percentages. In Utrecht the relative shortage is considerable, but as a result of a multitude of expected developments in the city, this relative shortage is expected to drop by half. The absolute shortages in the cities of Leiden and Delft will increase, due to an expected growth of the student populations in these cities. Although housing developments are planned in these cities, these are not expected to be sufficient to reduce the shortages. Furthermore, it is striking to note that the surplus in Arnhem is only expected to increase. This is due to the expected decline in the number of students leaving home for the first time. To a greater extent, the cities of Breda and Zwolle will also witness a decline, ensuring a shift from the current shortages to a surplus.

Map of the Netherlands

Student housing shortages in '19-'20

Map of the Netherlands

Student housing shortages in '26-'27

Source Savills Research

"Through the conversion of homes into shared student housing and increasingly more specific needs of tenants, qualitative shortages are on the rise."

The above shows the differences in quantitative shortages. In reviewing the qualitative shortages no specific figures are available, but most cities show even greater total shortages than indicated above. Through the conversion of homes into shared student housing and increasingly more specific needs of tenants, qualitative shortages are on the rise. In many cities, the supply currently mainly consists of separate rooms with shared facilities. Due to the internationalisation of student populations there is an increasing need for a more varied supply. For example, there is an increasing need for purpose-built student accommodations (PBSAs). A great example of a city where shortages appear to be limited is Groningen. The qualitative shortage, however, is relatively high – partly as a result of the growing number of international students in this city. Rising shortages mean that it is becoming even more difficult for students to find suitable housing. And there is another effect resulting from scarcity in the market; growing price pressure in most cities.

Effects on rent

Continuing shortages push rents even more.

The table above shows that rents in student towns and cities are on the rise. The average price increase of available student homes in the Netherlands was a whopping 14%. However, this is based on the current supply. Regardless, this is still a considerable increase, particularly when compared to previous years. Rents have increased by more than 20% in six out of the eighteen towns and cities, including major student cities such as Utrecht and Nijmegen. In the cities with the highest rents, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, rents are rising relatively slower, by 6% and 4% respectively. Although the shortages are leading to less affordable student housing, they are also still leading to more interest from investors. The result of the scarcity is an increase in cash flows.


Investors anticipate future demand in times of economic downturn.