Twente offers asylum seekers a study home

February 5, 1999

The University of Twente is planning to accommodate young asylum seekers on campus.

The idea came from the student council which wanted to help ease the problems faced by refugees in the Netherlands. Many people were shocked by television reports last autumn showing asylum seekers living in leaking tents near the German border.

The university specialises in the technological and social sciences. Remco Vogelezang of the student council said: "It's been in the news for some time, and we thought why shouldn't we do something ourselves to help these people?" The students came up with the idea of offering accommodation to educated young asylum seekers who want to continue with their studies. Initially the university board rejected the plan, arguing that there was not enough room on campus. But after being told by the university's housing officer that 50 rooms were empty, it agreed to discuss the plan further.

Twente has now given the go-ahead for a small group of asylum seekers to begin studying at the university.

The Dutch government will fund the project on condition that everyone who applies to study at Twente has a residence permit and agrees to leave once their course has finished. Additional funding will come from the Dutch Student Organisation for Refugees.

Mr Vogelezang said the students at the University of Twente were feeling "very positive" about receiving the first group of asylum seekers.

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