File image: IOL.

CAPE TOWN - The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, Connie September, calls on Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu to take students of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) to the land that they were promised for student accommodation. 

The call comes after the Chairperson, as part of her constituency work programme, met with the University of Cape Town (UCT) and UWC to examine their readiness for 2018 registration. 

“We continue to see the hard work that the institutions are putting into the registration process to ensure that deserving students are accommodated at these institutions”, said September.  On her visit to UWC, the Chairperson was then slammed with the news that the proposed plan to build more student accommodation closer to the university had been side-tracked. 

“In our meeting in August 2017 we were informed that the university had also identified two sites near the main campus and these sites were earmarked for the construction of student residences that could take up to 2 600 students. However, the City of Cape Town informed the university about its intention to develop low-cost housing at one of the sites”, said September. 

September says that the university was in the process of negotiating with the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Provincial Government for the provision of land to erect student residences.

“I was informed, to our utmost disgust, that the promised land does not seem to materialise. At a meeting between the university and the MEC for Human Settlements at the end of 2017, the MEC agreed to the university’s request.”, said September. 

The university then saw low-cost houses being erected, at the expense of an inept decision taken by the MEC, says September. 

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Asked whether student accommodation should take priority over housing, the Chairperson said that the provision of housing for the poor remains important. However, insufficient student accommodation is "a problem that dearly affects the academic life of especially poor students", said September. She says that she foresees thousands of students who will be homeless which is outright wrong. 

September added that UWC is not only without the promised land but also without finance. “I will ask that the Minister of Human Settlements, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, to take the students to the promised land and intervene in the irregular decisions of the Western Cape Province”, said September. 

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