Durban - KwaZulu-Natal universities are still struggling to accommodate masses of students who come from across the country to study, and they are now recommending private accommodation.
At this time of year, during registration, students from universities regularly embark on protests when they fail to secure accommodation.
Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) spokesman Len Mzimela said the institution had received about 40 000 new applications and many had also applied for on-campus accommodation.
He said the university had about 10 100 students but could only provide accommodation for half of them.
It had 5 670 beds available and, of those, 1 270 would be allocated to first-years.
MUT had seven on-campus residences and 15 off-campus residences. It had been leasing the Four Seasons Hotel at the beachfront, but that lease had been cancelled.
“There is a new 640-bed on-campus residence being built at the moment,” he said.
“Accommodation is a challenge for all institutions of higher learning and MUT experiences the same challenge.
Until the city partners with universities for a lasting solution, this will continue as demand outstrips supply.”
Mzimela said the students’ alternative was to stay at home if they were local and, if they lived far away, to move in with relatives or rent accommodation.
Many homeowners close to institutions now rented rooms to students. MUT student Mfezeko Ngubane said the standard rate was R350 a month in a four-sleeper and R750 for a single room.
University of KwaZulu-Natal spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said that for this year, UKZN received 12 727 accommodation applications, while it had 12 088 places available.
“Each year, there is always more demand than supply for on-campus accommodation.
The university also makes use of private accommodation,” he said.
Seshoka said the university had a list of private accommodation providers that parents and students could get on request during registration.
First-year students would occupy 2 363 places.
“Admission to residence is allocated on the basis of students fulfilling academic admission requirements, the needs of students who are unable to commute back and forth from home to the university (including students living with disabilities), and the demonstration of the ability to pay residence fees,” he said.
Seshoka said planning was under way for the construction of additional residences.
University of Zululand spokesman Mack Makhathini said the institution received a lower number of applications than the number of spaces it could offer. It received 3 457 applications and had 3 584 spaces.
He said students could source private accommodation.
Durban University of Technology spokesman Alan Khan said the university received “more applications for resident admissions than there are beds available” at its Durban centre annually. “Unfortunately, we do not have the means to house every student who applies for accommodation.”
Khan said DUT was constructing two 800-bed residences to ease the demand.
DUT had received 5 654 applications for accommodation, and Ndlovu said new applications were still being received from first-year students.
RE/MAX estate agent Kendal Coward said they dealt with a lot of students who rented property in Durban.
He recommended that students go for smaller flats and have their parents sign the lease agreement on their behalf.
Coward said the rate ranged from R1 500 a month for a single room to R1 800 when sharing and R3 000 for a studio flat.
“When they sign a lease, they have to pay in December and January, even if they are not there,” he said.