Concerns over shortage of student accommodation

For the matriculants who choose to further their studies at university, getting an acceptance letter from the university of their choice is only half the battle won.

For the majority of the students whose homes are nowhere near the institutions, finding a place to stay is a major struggle.

According to a review report on student accommodation in South Africa's 23 universities that was released to the public in February, public universities can only accommodate 20 percent of the total number of contact students.

When the report was released, Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande gave this example to illustrate the desperate need for student accommodation: "It takes a student that resides at home in Mamelodi and travels to and from either (Wits) or the University of Johannesburg (UJ) between three to four hours a day to attend classes using public transport. The estimated [distance] between Mamelodi and Johannesburg is only 82km. It's no coincidence that many students experiencing these conditions, especially in the first year, fail to cope with the demands of academia given the time spent commuting."

Nzimande said the lack of space and adequate accommodation was more severe for firstyear students, who are the ones most in need of the facilities and the support they provide.
"Most disconcerting though is that only 5.3 percent of first year students, those arguably in the greatest need of accommodation, are in residences. This is of serious concern to us," he said.
In addition to the shortage of residences, the report found that the facilities that are there aren't well maintained.

"Many institutions have not been able to make sufficient investments in maintaining their infrastructure, and far too few students can actually be accommodated," Nzimande said.
The report revealed that in some instances up to eight students share one room. UJ vice-chancellor Ihron Rensburg, who chaired the ministerial committee that compiled the report, said the committee came across "outstanding" practices, such as in Rhodes and Stellenbosch, and "very bad" conditions.

"The one that really stood out was in KZN where a hostel for sugarcane workers was converted into a residence for students. The conditions were quite appalling. The food was moved from the main campus [to the residence] and arrived cold. The impression we had of the food was that it was rotten," Rensburg said.

The committee found that 41 percent of the campuses had dining halls, 40 percent were selfcatering and 19 percent had both options. The report reads: "Mixed views were expressed with regard to self-catering versus catered meals. Self-catering is viewed as being the cheaper and more flexible option, but many students lamented that preparing meals is time consuming."
The report further states that of the residences that do have catering facilities "many kitchens observed during site visits were poorly furnished and equipped and in some cases... had no stoves, with students expected to bring their own."

Even in places with adequate kitchens, students still prefer to cook in their rooms. The committee found that students used their desks to study and to cook and washed their dishes in bathroom sinks, which often lead to drain blockages.

Another issue the committee picked up was that many students went for long periods of time, days sometimes, without eating.

"Food and nutrition are issues in all universities. During the site visits the committee became aware of large numbers of students (both residential and nonresidential) who were hungry.
"There is a general concern among residence managers and student leaders alike that students are not eating well. Financial pressure are such that students go hungry or constantly eat poor quality or inadequately balanced diets.

"Some students don't eat for days. University managers considered this to be a particularly serious problem among first-year students and those with bursaries. Hunger and poor nutrition are believed to affect attendance, concentration during lectures and academic performance, and to lead to high dropout rates."

The report also found that there was a "severe shortage" of accommodation for students with disabilities.

"Some campuses have no residences suitable for students who require wheelchair-accessible buildings, rooms and bathroom facilities."

The committee found that no university had specific policies regarding accommodating students with disabilities.

The Department of Higher Education and Training's spokeswoman, Vuyelwa Qinga, said all universities had been allocated funding to improve their infrastructure, including student residences.

"For all new infrastructure and residences, it is a requirement that facilities must be universally accessible [also for students with disabilities]. An amount of R130.1 million was made available by the department with universities providing from their own resources R51.7m for improving infrastructure to ensure greater accessibility," she said.

Qinga said in addition to the R6 billion the department had set aside for the infrastructure and efficiency grant for universities over the 2012/13 and 2013/14 financial years, universities had also committed from their own funding a further R671m to this grant.

"This brings the total combined funding available for student accommodation to R2.3bn. This will yield at least 9 000 new beds into the system over the next three years," she said.

(Pretoria News)

  Comment on this Article

  Please login to post comments

Post to my facebook wall
Characters remaining

    Latest Property News
    • 17 Nov 2017
      FWJK has announced the launch of its latest residential brand, the Lil’ Apple, which will be launched simultaneously in two developments in Cape Town and Umhlanga totaling 600 apartments. The Lil’ Apple is set to be a brand of FWJK’s New York style apartments which will be rolled out nationally.
    • 17 Nov 2017
      It’s been a tumultuous year on many fronts, with socio-political uncertainty setting the tone for much of South Africa’s economic activity yet despite this and seemingly counter-intuitively, the residential property market has held up well.
    • 17 Nov 2017
      The EAAB (the Estate Agency Affairs Board) recently claimed that around 50,000 illegal estate agents could currently be operating illegally.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      Penthouses are synonymous with New York – characterised by high-rise living that is decidedly luxurious and spacious. While exclusivity comes at a price, you can still create a “penthouse” look and feel in your existing apartment or even the upstairs bedroom of a double storey house with some clever design changes and styling touches.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      The area has long been popular with kite surfers and, with escalating property prices in Cape Town itself, is increasingly in demand with home owners who work in town, but are looking to invest in more affordable properties.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      Cape Town’s popularity as a world-class tourist destination has resulted in a spike in the number of homes available for holiday lets and fuelled investor demand for sectional title units with short term rental potential.
    • 15 Nov 2017
      Sappi, one of South Africa’s oldest global companies and a leading global supplier of sustainable woodfibre products, has moved its global and regional headquarters to a new site on the corner of Oxford and 14th Avenue in Rosebank.
    • 15 Nov 2017
      There’s an old saying in real estate that you should seek to make a profit when you buy, not only when you sell – and a large part of succeeding at that endeavour is buying a home in an area with desirable features that will enhance the resale value of your property.
    Subscribe to the MyProperty Newsletter

    Last Name  
    Email Address  
    Email Frequency
    Share this Page

    For Sale Property
    Rental Property
    More Options
    Connect with us