Picture: Tracey Adams/ANA
Picture: Tracey Adams/ANA

Shortage of university residences

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published Feb 7, 2018

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Cape Town - There is a huge shortage of accommodation for the thousands of university students streaming to campuses across the country.

Student leaders at some Western Cape universities said accommodation remained a problem for many students at the institutions. They complained that the number of beds in residences is fewer than the number of students who have to be accommodated.

Chairperson of the central housing committee at the University of Western Cape Kukhanyile Mali said they were working together with the university to ensure everyone has accommodation.

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“The students qualified for residence but cannot be placed due to the lack of bed spaces. We robustly engaged with management to try to find an amicable solution to this crisis,” Mali said.

Karabo Khakhau, University of Cape Town SRC president, said they had to assist students who were stranded on Monday.

“The problem is the institution over offers residential space which resulted in confusion and frustration. Some students come from far provinces thinking they have secured a place and finds out they are still on a waiting list and some were rejected,” Khakhau said.

“NSFAS students get about R3500 for rental and the rest of the money is for food and transport. There is no accommodation that costs below R4000 in the southern suburbs and it poses problems for students,” she added.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said: “University had 79% of students who have been made accommodation offers placed in university residences. For 2018, UCT received 10660 applications for residence, comprising 5530 first-year students with academic offers and 5130 returning students. UCT has residence capacity of 6800 beds. 

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"A large percentage of students with accommodation offers have, at this stage, been placed in most of our residences. The university has added extra capacity through a lease signed with an off-campus residence in Wynberg. The university has a dedicated Off Campus Student Accommodation Services (OCSAS) to assist students who cannot secure space on campus due to limited capacity.”

UWC spokesperson Luthando Tyhali-bongo said there was a plan in place to increase the number of available bed spaces by more than 2000.

“The total university intake for this year will be more than 23000 students while in 2017 it was 22489. Annually, the university allocates accommodation space to 3302 students. The university has recently acquired land and buildings in Symphony Road and Robert Sobukwe Road (Belhar and Bellville South) - land that is earmarked for student accommodation in the areas surrounding campus. The acquired land is projected to be occupied in January 2020,” Tyhalibongo said.

Private accommodation owners are currently providing more than 2100 students with accommodation.

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