Cape Town - With the tertiary academic year to commence soon, universities were yet again exploring how to comfortably accommodate the annual influx of students arriving at their gates.
Stellenbosch University (SU) spokesperson Martin Viljoen said accommodation remained a national challenge.
He said two new residences would be completed by the second term of 2024, adding 400 new beds to meet increased demand.
About 75% of SU students were either commuting or staying in private accommodation, according to Viljoen.
The university had received around 14 000 applications for SU residence spaces from first-years, with the university able to accommodate around 2 000 in residences on the Stellenbosch campus, and 280 first-years at the Tygerberg Campus.
“The university, in collaboration with the SRC, manages temporary accommodation where possible with about 100 students being accommodated in this way daily (with students being placed when accommodation becomes available elsewhere).
“It is however not possible to provide an exact number as there is a constant flow of students who need accommodation,” Viljoen said.
At the University of the Western Cape (UWC), a total of 52 000 applications for accommodation were received, with an available total bed space of 6 294 university-owned and leased.
Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) spokesperson, Lauren Kansley, said the university had increased its accredited residence spaces by close to 2 000 beds in 2024, bringing the total accredited campus housing to roughly 15 000.
“This is the most ambitious student housing planning projection plan of any SA university and we house in the region of 43% of our student body in accredited or unaccredited housing,” Kansley said.
Each year, thousands of walk-ins from other provinces descended on campuses to do late applications, Kansley said.
“These potential students arrive with no acceptance letter or a place to stay, placing huge pressure on our student housing department.
“We always appeal to potential students to only travel to campus once they have secured acceptance and secured funding for housing.”
South African Students’ Congress (Sasco) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), Anesipho Gontshi said: “There is an accommodation crisis here as well, but I must say it’s being handled better than at other institutions.”
Gontshi said that there were transit residences where students with accommodation issues were placed temporarily while their issues were resolved.
“For example, first-year students who haven’t obtained res offers are in temporary accommodation while the institution fixes its admin, returning students are going through the same.
“Then students with fee blocks who had their res offers retracted because they cannot register are also placed there whilst they fix their issues as well.”
These students were placed into student accommodation, recently built in town.
“The institution signed a one-month lease with them, with the hope that everything will be resolved by the end of February,” Gontshi.