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House swap offers hope for homeless exchange students

Dutch start-up HousingAnywhere.com is working on a deal with University of Copenhagen International Office to provide a new way of finding exchange housing. It is already integrated with the Copenhagen Business School and the school of journalism

University of Copenhagen (UCPH) students may have a new way of finding student housing when they are on exchange, from next semester. The Dutch student-to-student platform HousingAnywhere.com says it is having good talks with the University of Copenhagen’s International Office to offer accommodation services to international students.

The housing situation for the 2,000 incoming international students remains grim. With too few rooms to accommodate them, the International Office is swamped with accommodation requests it cannot fill. Many international students arrive to study abroad with no housing contract, living in hostels for the first month of studies.

HousingAnywhere.com is offering an alternative way to find housing prior to arriving in Denmark: Students that go abroad for a semester can rent out their empty rooms, and in the same way incoming students can then rent that room. Students at the Copenhagen Business School and the Danish School of Media and Journalism can currently take advantage of the platform. HousingAnywhere hopes for a Spring 2014 integration for University of Copenhagen students.

Tough for exchange students

“When I came to Copenhagen, I was sleeping on a couch for three weeks,” says Nicholas Stricker, a Copenhagen Business School student and Head of Partnerships for HousingAnywhere Germany.

His colleague, Gianluca Bellan, wasn’t so lucky, even as a full-degree international student at CBS. “I spent two weeks at the Generator Hostel – I remember many exchange students living there,” Bellan says.

For full degree students, the search for affordable accommodation in one of the world’s most expensive cities is hard enough. For exchange students only studying for a year, it’s much harder, because of the need for a short-term, fully furnished room. “Some of my friends stopped studying and went home because they couldn’t find housing for their four months on exchange,” Stricker says.

No scams

HousingAnywhere’s online platform first entered the Copenhagen market through its partnership with the Copenhagen Business School, placing so far 100 students in rooms vacated by CBS students on exchange.

“We’re different from other Danish rental sites because we offer a way for the students to have control to choose where they want to live, in English,” says Gunnhild Holthe, Head of Partnerships for HousingAnywhere Nordic.

HousingAnywhere’s English language site provides a channel of communication between students, with a level of safety unmatched by scam-plagued sites like Craigslist or Den Blȧ Avis. In 5 years of operation, zero scams or problems have been reported. Students must register with their email address to place an ad or find accommodation.

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