Collaboration with external partners and customised assistance in offering accommodation

Accommodation is the second most important aspect of the successful impelemtation of international academic mobility, right after getting a job/fellowships/scholarship. The requirements for accommodation may vary according to cultural customs, financial possibilities of academic, family conditions (single or with a partner, or children), relationship to ecology (type of transport), health status (need for lift, etc.) In any case, the apartment should have basic equipment: furniture, basic electrical appliances. In the case of international academic and international PhD. student, it is usually a lease for a certain period of time. It is necessary to take into consideration the possibility that some young academics or students may be interested in living together (larger flats), some prefer single living (smaller flats). It is welcome if the institution can offer accommodation in its own accommodation facility, which usually represents a separate room with basic facilities and accessories and a shared kitchen / study room.

In case the own HEI lodging facilities are limited, it is desirable to reach out to external partners for ensuring extra rooms, flats. The practice idenifies practical activities, where a HEI can be a mediator between the external contractor and the incoming international.


Improved quality of service Improved access to information Improved procedure/efficiency Better communication and cooperation Social integration

Basic information
Categories Accommodation Social Integration & Daily Life Family Matters
Mobility stages Pre-arrival phase Upon arrival
Delivery schedule Not defined
Importance Important to have
Scale of organizational change
Target groups PhD student/Early career researcher R2 - R4 researchers Lecturers (incl. Language Teachers) Internationals spouses/family members
Types of contracts of researchers Full degree student Visiting scholar Employee in training (interns, research fellows, postdocs) Permanent employee Fixed term employee
Career stages of researchers 6-12-months of experience Less than 6 months 1-3-years of experience 3-10 years of experience 10-15 years of experience
Lengths of stays of researchers 0-3 months 3-6 months 6-12 months More than 12 months
Practice setup

While preparing a database/directory of suitable accommodation facilities (besides those available by the HEI directly), it is desirable to establish also personal contacts with those where there is a high probability of cooperation through IRO staff. It is advised that such collaborations are

  • built upon the good reputation of a HEI

  • supervised/negotiated by a representative of top management.

If necessary, such collaborations might also be formalised by an official agreement.

The cooperation with a Real estate agency can include the following activities:

  • agreement on standard procedures for seeking a suitable lodging facility for HEIs visitors and under what conditions,

  • agreement on standardised bilingual rental contract - with explanatory comments, if needed.

While collaborating with a specific Housing owner (municipality, regional authorties, commercial or private owners), it might be useful to:

  • find out what the conditions and preferences for accommodation are (no couples with children, no pets, families, several individuals with shared spaces, etc..) and offer the contact only to a suitable international academics/students;

  • demonstrate a willingness to assist in resolving any misunderstandings / problems beyond the contractual relationship, which is generally between international PhD. student/academic  and the accommodation provider if they are the direct contracting parties. Legally, this relationship stands outside the competence of the university, but if the university shows a willingness to guarantee good relationships, it is more likely to come to an agreement with the provider;

  • offer assistance in formulating / translating a renrtal contract, if needed.

  • alternatively, the HEI can rent the housing facilities directly from the owner to ensure their availability and let them for a sublease to suitable international academics/PhD students. In such a case a formal contract with detailed terms and conditions needs to be negotiated.

Cost of practice setup
Time required for practice setup
Personnel effort required for practice setup
Actors involved in practice setup
  • HR Department
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Study department
  • Research office
  • Dormitory/accommodation facility
Partners involved in practice setup
  • Real estate agent
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice setup
  • Number of collaboration agreements with external partners
  • Database filled-in with data
  • Procedures or bylaws are defined or updated

@Real estate agency

  • Negotiating/Agreeing on terms and conditions of cooperation

  • Agreeing and translating into English of a standardised rental agreement

@Housing owner (municipality, regional authorties, commercial or private owners)

  • Negotiating/Agreeing on terms and conditions of cooperation

  • Agreeing and translating into English of a standardised rental agreement

  • If possible -  negotiating the direct rental by HEI to sublease the property

Practice delivery

The provision of this service can contain the following activities:

  • Recommending PhD students and researchers suitable accommodation providers/real estate agencies

  • Contacting providers/real estate agencies on behalf of international academics/PhDs

  • Arranging a suitable date for a meeting,

  • Accompanying international PhD students/academics to the rental site visit before prior the contract is being signed, interpretating if needed

  • Assistance in handling administrative formalities

  • Notification of international PhD students/academics on the important provisions of the rental contract - assistance in signing

  • Familiarization of international PhD. students / academics with the House rules in blocks of flats, hostels (silence hours especially at nights/over weekends, inspection list at the take-over, neigbourly relations - communication, joint spaces and their usage)

  • Notifying the provider/owner of possible fundamental changes in the length of mobility (shortening, extension), which may have an impact on the contractual relationship with the landlord

  • In case of complication / misunderstanding provide an assistance in finding a solution (joint discussion, or excuse letter)

  • In case of great satisfaction with the facilities - thank-you letter

  • Launching a periodic short questionnaire to identify problems, obstacles, difficulties that arise on the part of providers and tenants

  • Evaluating the questionnaire and setting up measures to eliminate complications and to keep good relationships with the external partners (respecting the type of accommodated international academics, with family, without family..)

  • Updating the database of service providers (ideally based on the contacts that university has gained over the years and has a feedback about its quality from users, international PhDs and international academics and based on the survey outcomes.)

Cost of practice delivery
Time required for practice delivery
Personnel effort required for practice delivery
Actors involved in practice delivery
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Dormitory/accommodation facility
Partners involved in practice delivery
  • Real estate agent
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice delivery
  • Average satisfaction rate
  • Number of collaborative assistances carried out annually
  • Number of researchers assisted annually

Diectors of student dormitories, and IRO staff can be mediators in communication between Real estate agents, Housing owners (municipality, regional authorties, commercial or private owners) and international PhDs/academics

Examples of practice

Linkoping University - Find appartment

This is an example of a strategic collaboration between Linkoping University and Stångåstaden (the largest housing company in Linköping owned by the municipality of Linköping) in seeking and providing housing for students and academics staff. The website provided a detailed guideline on how to apply for a home (procedure, terms, signing a contract, FAQs).

The Linkoping University also publishes proven rental offers including detailed information on its website. All the offers are verified by the university's support staff engaged in assistance to incoming PhD students, academics and researchers.

ETH Zurich - accommodation

The Housing Office of University and ETH Zurich helps students and employees at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich to find accommodation. The accommodation can be searched online via the Housing Office website or make use of its personal advisory service. Apart from housing for undergraduate students, the Housing Office offers some studio apartments reserved for international doctoral students.

ETH Zurich also collaborates with Student Housing Cooperative (Studentische Wohngenossenschaft, Woko) which has around 2,000 rooms to let throughout the city of Zurich. These are available exclusively to students and doctoral students at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich and are all within very easy reach by public transport, most of them being located near one of the university sites.

The dedicated website also contains information on your rights and responsibilities as a tenant which helps prevent any unexpected issues.