While understanding that there could always be similar risks, Anna was advocating for the following solution. There are many organisations, such as Woon that provide legal help and advice for students for free.
However, the UvA could advertise them because many first-years (including Anna) were unaware of their existence. Her testimonial showed us how every day these situations are, and the worrying extent to which they affect a student’s mental health, often even the ability to study.
We advocate that the university be more aware of this dynamic, understanding that the University of Amsterdam cannot fully prepare students within such a short amount of time, which leads to inadequate study spaces, and extra stress.
To improve the situation, we believe that the university could implement a more extended timeline. For example, informing students more than three weeks in advance on whether they received a room through UvA housing and sending a confirmation of enrollment with more than a few weeks notice so that students have more time to search on the private market with considerably less stress and pressure.
The potential implementation and maintenance of this policy is the University of Amsterdam’s direct responsibility. We are aware that this issue has been present for years, and is challenging. At the same time, we believe this policy proposal has offered a sufficient basis of evidence by which it can be understood how students—particularly new students—are negatively affected. A few suggestions are already given, but open discussion is always needed to grasp how this can be improved wholly.
We understand that extending the timeline would represent not just a tremendous monetary cost, but a bureaucratic challenge for the UvA. It would require extensive re-organisation and probably a different managerial approach.
Given the bureaucratic challenge that the policy represents, we are aware that change cannot come overnight. The UvA would require ample time to start implementing it, so we expect even a few years before the actual change comes along. However, we believe in showing the essential consequences of the issue on students’ lives and mental health. Therefore, initial discussions on possible solutions should be considered a fundamental first step.
The solutions that we proposed are not guaranteed to fix the problem completely. The UvA would need to evaluate whether the new policy works well given the Amsterdam market situation. Therefore, recurring evaluation forms aimed mainly at first-years would provide valuable feedback.