City in dire need of student housing
LALI VAN ZUYDAM and ANNIKA MOUTON
THE CITY’S universities are facing a student housing crisis, and plans are under way to provide more student accommodation.
The University of Pretoria (UP) is able to meet only 18 percent of its students’ accommodation needs, and new avenues for housing developments are being explored.
Tukkies recently advertised the need for private, off-campus accommodation for its students.
This was in response to a request from the higher education ministerial committee for universities and the private sector to enter into partnerships to address the national need – for more than 2 007 800 student beds – as identified in 2011.
Professor Roelf Visser, director of residence affairs and accommodation at UP, said there was a shortage of on-campus accommodation, with 38 500 students being left without this option.
Many students wanted to live in the university’s residences, but not all could be accommodated.
“UP intends to increase its residence capacity by seeking private, off-campus student accommodation,” Visser said.
The private accommodation would serve as a supplement and alternative to residences.
The number of students accommodated on campus is 8 500 – only 18 percent of the number of enrolled students.
This is 12 percent lower than the national norm of 30 percent.
As part of UP’s growth plan for 2025, 8 000 additional beds are to be provided to meet the 30 percent standard.
“We are looking for well-designed, quality, affordable student clusters with supporting facilities to create a quality living and learning environment,” Visser said.
He emphasised the importance of safety, security and a location near the university’s main campus in Hatfield.
According to Visser, there were many reasons for the shortage of accommodation.
These included the lack of investment in student housing, shortage of funds and land, and the lack of available high-quality accommodation.
“It seems many students do find accommodation in below-standard, overcrowded communes with almost no maintenance, security measures and support,” Visser said.
Students were often exploited by people renting out these low-quality communes, he said.
Visser expressed the need for additional services as part of the private accommodation offered off-campus.
“Associated services such as provision of food, day-to-day maintenance, security, student support, and transport are required,” he said.
Visser said accommodation should be available for occupation by January next year or January 2015.
Proposals for private accommodation developments may be submitted to the university before 12pm on February 22.
Meanwhile, the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) has opened the doors to a new private, off-campus housing development.
Junction-S, a student housing provider in Gauteng, recently opened the first phase of a R300 million student housing development, Ekhaya Junction, in Wier street, Pretoria Gardens.
“We are confident that this will go a long way in addressing the student housing shortage in Pretoria,” said Cornelius Mokone, director of Junction-S.
Ekhaya Junction will accommodate 2 300 students when the complex is completed in December next year.
The first phase houses 522 students and the second phase, to be completed by the end of May, will add another 324 beds. The bedrooms are grouped into units (for 12 students or for four students).
Costs range between R1 750 a bed a month and R2 450 a bed a month, depending on whether they are single rooms or shared accommodation.
Each unit has a communal kitchen and one bathroom for every four beds.
Some of the amenities provided by Ekhaya Junction include free Wi-Fi, study rooms, kiosks, a games room, laundry facilities and daily cleaning and maintenance.
Ekhaya Junction is connected to TUT campus by a 300m paved walkway.
This will be open for students as soon as TUT gives the go-ahead to install a biometric gate to provide access to the campus.
Until then, transport will be provided.
Students who already live there are satisfied with the facilities, especially compared to their previous housing.
“Compared to on-campus res, I love it!” says Nompumelelo Zungu, 19, a second-year architecture student.
However, the limited space in her single bedroom may become a problem when she has to do her projects, she said.
Neo Monnahela, 20, a second-year engineering student is happy with Ekhaya as a learning environment because of the reduced noise especially after 8pm.
Since Ekhaya Junction is still under construction, management is open for suggestions and has already adjusted its planning to incorporate more single rooms.
As suggested, a swimming pool and gym are on the table, according to Mokone.
Meanwhile, the Tshwane Metro Council has identified some of its sites for much-needed student accommodation.
A report submitted to the council said the metro area hosted a number of research institutions and universities such as the Innovation Hub, the CSIR, Tukkies, TUT and Unisa, and it had become critical that students arriving in the city from all over South Africa be provided with accommodation.
It was estimated that 60 000 students were in need of accommodation.
The municipality has now identified land in Marabastad for student accommodation.