DURBAN - The multi-million-rand construction of new buildings, including new student residences, for the Durban University of Technology, will begin in April.

The university wants to complete construction of R1billion worth of infrastructure by 2030.

The university’s plan was revealed at the State of the University Address, delivered by Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Thandwa Mthembu, at the Steve Biko campus yesterday.

In his speech, Mthembu addressed key issues such as student accommodation, safety concerns and plans to transform and upscale the institution.

Mthembu said DUT, in partnership with the Department of Higher Education and Training, had already invested millions of rands in the development.

Over the next three years, R420million would be spent on infrastructure at the university’s Durban and Pietermaritzburg campuses.

Mthembu said a priority list has already been compiled.

A moment of silence was also held yesterday for the student and lecturer who died this year.

Student Mlungisi Madonsela was killed allegedly by armed security guards during student protests.

Days later, DUT mourned its second death when police found the body of Dr Euvette Taylor, 30, a registered homeopath, who was employed at DUT’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

He had been assaulted at the Winterton residence at Steve Biko campus.

Addressing the issues around recent violent protests that broke out at the university, Mthembu said they hoped to never experience such tragedies at DUT again.

“I profusely apologise to the families of those we lost, the students, the staff who were injured, even the husband of one of the staff members who was caught up in the protests,” he said.

He said the management had instructed the student protection services to liaise with the student representative council to come up with ideas to commemorate the deaths of Madonsela and Taylor every year from 2020.

“Looking at the safety and security of our students, staff and university, we have engaged a security company to conduct a risk assessment. We will be implementing those recommendations soon,” he said.

Mthembu said students were becoming increasingly violent as they continued to demand services not in the purview of the university’s management.

“Some matters are bigger than the management could ever deliver on,” he said.

He urged students to start their own legacy by replacing dishonourable behaviour with reason. Mthembu said rage had become the way of life at DUT and for many in South Africa.

“It’s not about who sank our socio-economy but who lifted it up. That is the students’ legacy,” he said.

Mthembu also revealed that the university plans on reducing the student to staff ratio significantly by 2025. DUT is aiming to achieve a ratio of one staff member to 25 students.

“By 2025, we hope to reduce the staff to student ratio. We also hope to improve staff with doctorates. This is a university and no longer a technikon,” he said.

He said a strategic plan was in place from this year to achieve all goals by 2030.

- THE MERCURY