This was in response to the outcry by thousands of students at the shortage of accommodation at tertiary institutions across the country.
DHET spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said the department had allocated R4.1billion to universities for student housing over six years from 2015/16 to 2020/21 in support of the programme.
Ngqengelele said some universities had also added their own resources or borrowed additional funding to develop more student housing.
He said universities were responsible for the implementation of the different projects.
“The Ship plans to develop a total of around 200000 new bed spaces for university students and 100000 for TVET colleges over the next 10 years.”
In April 2017, former DHET minister Blade Nzimande announced a “major investment in university infrastructure” in which billions of rand would be spent over “two years” (2018 and 2019) on new student housing, laboratories, communications technology and other essential facilities, as well as essential maintenance and the expansion of new universities.
Ngqengelele said that since Nzimande’s announcement, the department had built about 12000 new bed spaces through the development of a number of smaller projects of 200 to 500 beds each.
He said that this year there would be “eight large-scale new projects implemented, with at least 2000 beds at different universities”. This would result in 20400 new beds being built over the next two years.
“These are being funded with grants from the department, together with other funds form a variety of sources.”
Ngqengelele said there had been “very good progress over the last 18 months and the shortage of beds will be reduced drastically over the next three years”.
“It is also worth noting that the department has allocated R7.5bn over the period 2018/19 to 2020/21 for other types of university infrastructure, including maintenance and refurbishment of older buildings,” he said.
The chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, Connie September, said the committee were “excited to know that money has been set aside for the accommodation of students”.
September said the question they kept asking as the committee was: “Are we catching up sufficiently?”
“Students must not be exploited. They must be given access to student housing,” she said.@SISONKE_MD