Mayor Krikke: ‘Students have changed the heartbeat of the city of The Hague’
Leiden University turned 444 this year, and we are celebrating this milestone with the residents of the two cities in which we have a presence: Leiden and The Hague. Mayor Pauline Krikke explains what 20 years of Campus The Hague means to her city.
What does Leiden University’s Campus The Hague mean for The Hague?
‘The Hague has become increasingly attractive to students. Thanks in part to Campus The Hague, the city has now become a real student city. The number of students has grown massively in recent years. Around 30,000 students are now enrolled at educational institutions in The Hague, 25,000 of whom are in higher professional education and 5,000 of whom are studying at the University. What makes our international city of peace and justice unique is the relatively large number of international students, around 6,000 of them. The Hague has always been a diverse city, and all these students from near and far add a new dimension. Higher education is a catalyst for urban development and regional economic growth, and The Hague is living proof of this.’
How has the Campus changed the city?
‘For a long time, The Hague was seen as the archetypical city of bureaucrats. That stuffy image has gone. The heartbeat of the city has changed. Barry Hay, the singer from Hague band Golden Earring, said in a recent interview with Radio West that The Hague is finally buzzing. If the uncrowned king of Dutch rock ’n roll says that, then it must be true. I see it every day as I walk through the centre and adjoining neighbourhoods: hustle and bustle, busy cafés and restaurants, and interesting new shops. Young people, and students in particular, have become a new target audience for business owners too, which is making our city more dynamic. And we see it from all the bikes, of course. Bikes everywhere. Whereas in the past it was the motorists who said it was difficult to find a parking space, now it’s the cyclists.’
How does all this activity benefit the city of The Hague and its surroundings?
‘Alongside the new dynamic and the lively campus climate, Campus The Hague together with Delft University of Technology is responsible for a strong academic cluster in the city. The presence of highly educated talent is an important factor in location choice for businesses and innovation. Research from Nuffic, the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education, has shown that increasing numbers of international students stay in the Netherlands after completing their studies. The majority settle in the Randstad area, which includes The Hague. The quality of teaching and research is crucial to attracting, using and retaining talent. And all these people setting out in life here after graduation make The Hague as a whole a stronger city.’
Is there a limit to the University’s growth?
‘The number of students has increased drastically in recent years and that is very noticeable in the city. It’s also becoming more of a challenge to find suitable accommodation. That relates to the huge demand for affordable housing in The Hague in general. What is more, Leiden University is growing faster than expected. Around half of all bachelor’s and master’s students come from abroad, which means that demand for student housing is growing fast. The city council therefore wants to realise accommodation for another 3,000 students before 2026, alongside the current ambition of accommodation for 1,900 until 2020. Luckily, the future is looking bright: there has been a significant increase in planned housing developments in the last few years, particularly around the three train stations. This will make The Hague even more attractive as a student city.’
What role do you see for the University in The Hague in the near future?
‘Developments in society are happening at lightning speed, also when it comes to topics such as governance, peace and justice, which help shape the profile of our city. Take digitisation and cybersecurity, issues in the area of health, care and district development, or liveable cities. It’s important to use scholarship and research when finding answers to these societal issues, not just for us as a city council but also for businesses and organisations in the city. By further increasing the triple helix of cooperation in education, government and business, we can better prepare the city for the future. Furthermore, Leiden University is an important partner within regional partnerships, also with the different educational institutions in The Hague and the region.’
Are there any areas in which the collaboration between Leiden University and the municipality of The Hague could be improved?
‘We’re already in intensive contact. I can’t say otherwise than that we already work together extremely well. As city council we have full faith that we will be able to find each other when it comes to important issues, both now and in the future.’
Exhibition in The Hague
An exhibition about the University and its connections with the city opens in the Atrium of City Hall in The Hague on 2 September.