The Truth About Empty Beds: Administration Sheds Light on AUC-DUWO Financial Agreement

By Lilli Kuechle

— AUC’s relationship with the Dutch student-housing non-profit organization DUWO is a common gripe among its students, with complaints on the Excellent and Diverse Students of AUC Facebook group ranging from security issues and high costs to broken laundry machines and magnetic keys. One recurring rumour is that AUC purposefully keeps beds in the dorms empty as part of their agreement with DUWO. This happens to be partially true, but the situation isn’t so cut and dry.

According to AUC’s Managing Director Belinda Stratton, there are currently around thirty empty beds in double- and four-person rooms out of a total of 806 residences. The school currently budgets around €200,000 per year to make up for DUWO’s lost revenue due to these vacancies. The actual amount paid to DUWO depends on the exact number of vacant rooms in a given year.

Stratton explained via email that “loss of revenue due to empty places averages about 0.5% in DUWO’s regular student housing. In the agreement between AUC and DUWO, it was agreed that any loss of revenue above the 0.5% in the AUC housing could not be carried by DUWO. They currently submit a detailed declaration twice a year, and invoices [sic] AUC for [the difference].”

Third-year social sciences student, Student Council and Tenant’s Association member Anouk ter Linde says there are several reasons for these spaces being kept empty. The main one is the mid-winter shuffle that occurs during the January intensive, when the February-entry third years move out and new first years move in along with the spring exchange students. The graduating third years do not have to move out until January 31st, but the incoming first-years’ contracts already begin on January 1st. This creates unavoidable vacancies beginning in early February. Empty spaces are also created when students drop out or transfer, and according to Stratton, the target retention rate at AUC is currently about 10% per year.

The university wants to reduce the number of empty spaces as much as possible. “We work closely with DUWO on finding ways to fill empty places temporarily with suitable student tenants if it is not possible to fill them with AUC students, but this isn’t easy,” Stratton explained.

In the past, empty spaces in the AUC building have been rented out to UvA or VU students, with mixed results. According to Marcus Smit, AUC’s Team Leader for Internationalization, Services and Communication, several UvA exchange students were placed in the AUC building due to an acute housing shortage for exchange students. “It didn’t work out well in some cases, when the AUC students already made [the] dorms their own and then had new students coming in [to their room],” Smit said via email.

Third-year social science student Floris Cobben was roommates with one of the UvA students this past fall. He claimed that DUWO only gave him three days notice on his new roommate. He said he didn’t mind having UvA students in the dorms in principle but “the problem is that they never consulted the student body properly about this.”

DUWO did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.

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