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Minister Addresses Current Student Accommodation Issue

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Protests have been erupting nationwide with student accommodation being one of the problems they are rooted in. Students have been making pleas pertaining to improvement in accommodation available to students. Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Blade Nzimande, has responded. 

The conversation about student accommodation issues and the magnitude of the issue has been ongoing for years. We see students protest for accommodation every year demanding better service delivery from Government. Government responds by issuing statements addressing the issue and making promises to improve the situation. They recognise that suitable accommodation and being settled will have a beneficial effect on performance in higher education. 

In Minister Blade Nzimande's response to the State of the Nation address, he said that government will provide 300 000 new beds at the 26 public universities and 50 public TVET colleges over 10 years. “We are currently developing large projects comprising of 7 273 new beds at various universities, where there is gross shortage of student accommodation,” emphasised Minister Nzimande.

The big news of the State of the Nation address was that a further R64 billion will be set aside by government for student accommodation - and they hope to get a similar figure from the private sector over the next ten years.  The Minister believes that this will go a long way towards addressing the accommodation needs in the post school sector.

In a statement released on the 20th February the Minister added that, "from the 2019/20 Historically Disadvantaged Institutions Development Grant, R147.674 million for the Mangosuthu University of Technology, University of Venda and the Walter Sisulu University recommended allocations will be allocated." The Minister has also stated that 2331 beds will be made available at two new universities of Sol Plaatjie and Mpumalanga. 

However this year's students are still experiencing problems because of the shortages.

UWC students who have no place to stay have been found sleeping in SRC offices as well as vacant rooms they found but were not registered to.

On the 19th February UWC faculty and security were seen searching residences for those occupying vacant rooms and were being questioned by students and SRC members. During this occurrence, SRC members announced on social media, "they have no problem with students sleeping in SRC and CHC offices or the students center" and were accusing security of being violent and abusive. 

                                                                                                                                 uwc

PHOTO CAPTION: UWC security searching rooms in residences for unauthorised students.

At Wits, February 11th had SRC members meet with management to discuss solutions to the accommodation issue. As a result, it was announced that the SRC will contribute R500 000 and the university agreed to contribute R1.5 million in order to source more beds for students. 

In other news related to student accommodation, private student loan company Fundi had a formal launch event in Johannesburg for their new online platform to facilitate the management of private providers of student accommodation. Inspired by services such as AirBnB, Fundi CEO Tshepo Ditshego demonstrated how students, private accommodation providers and education institutions can use the online platform to ease the process of finding, allocating and managing student accommodation.

A similar service is provided by the locally grown app Diggsconnect which also eases the process of finding accommodation near student campuses.  

Read full statement released by DHET here

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