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Department Plans To Do Better With Student Accommodation

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Blade Nzimande, the Minister who oversees Higher Education, has said that his Department aims to improve student accommodation in the country. This has always been a major issue in the higher education sector with students constantly seeking suitable accommodation spaces.

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Blade Nzimande, the Minister who oversees Higher Education, has said that his Department aims to improve student accommodation in the country. This has always been a major issue in the higher education sector with students constantly seeking suitable accommodation spaces.

During a meeting with the Portfolio Committee, he said that Government will be restructuring the whole issue of managing student accommodation in the Higher Education sector and hopefully the system as a whole.

"We have different types of student accommodation. Perhaps it will always be like this but we aren't managing this thing very clearly," he said. As far as student accommodation goes, there are institution owned accommodation, various types of private accommodation, institution leased private accommodation and also private accommodation which are next to institutions and seeked out by a lot of students.

Government is said to be pursuing the issue of Government buildings which are either not being used properly or not being used at all which are under the Department of Public Works. Nzimanade says these buildings can be turned into student accommodation buildings.

The Minister said that his Department has a strategy to restructure student accommodation in the sector and that "we need to co-ordinate properly the issue of student accommodation".

Another point which the Minister addressed was to say that non-University institutions should be taken seriously and seen as important as well, including Community Education and Training Centres.

Nzimande believes that the Community Training sector should be a larger sector and wants smaller sectors of higher education to be given the same attention the university sector gets.

He said that "we try our best to cater to that" and have extended the help of Higher Health to deal with Community Education and Training Centres and that the Department is working closely with the Department of Basic Education. 

Government has backed Higher Health financially as Nzimande said they have competent staff and are doing great work.

The Minister acknowledged that Covid-19 has hit the Higher Education sector with the realities of inequalities. 

The Minister does however say that poverty and inequalities were here already and that it is unfair to get surprised that the Department was unable to do away with it. "This can't be done overnight," said the Minister. 

He further said that his Department has done very well in expanding opportunities for vulnerable youth and that he is proud.

He urged everyone else to acknowledge the progress everyone has made and to focus on what has to be done in the future.

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