Pretoria - Student accommodation woes will be a thing of the past for Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) come December, as the university announced progress with its 2 000-bed student accommodation project.
The university announced last week that as part of its stated objective of ensuring that student life has a conducive living and studying environment, a critical aspect in this regard was the provision of adequate student accommodation.
The university has over the years had its fair share of challenges with student accommodation up to as recently as November 2021.
At the time, protesting students attempted to shut down the university allegedly demanding that it (the institution) extend the contracts of three student accommodations facilities, namely Tshwane Varsity Lodge (TVL), The Heights, and Drie Lillies.
Then, SMU Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Mbati said the university management had received the student’s demands regarding their desire to continue residing at the facilities despite service providers’ contracts with the university expiring at the end of 2021.
Mbati said the university had established a panel of accommodation service providers for student residences, after following due process as prescribed in its supply chain management policy.
Unfortunately, he said, the three service providers did not to meet the threshold requirements indicated in the specifications, as evidenced during the evaluation of the bids.
Mbati added that university management could not accede to the student's demands as the accommodation facilities did not fully comply with the minimum norms and standards for student accommodation, as set out in the Department of Higher Education and Training policy.
Students’ insistence for the university to continue leasing the facilities was in part due to concerns about the distance of new accommodation and the financial implications for the students.
However, issues of distance will not be an issue with the new accommodation, as the university said the 2 000-bed student complex was being constructed at the foot of the mountain overlooking the SMU campus.
During a recent site visit by a delegation led by Mbati, the team was informed that Phase 1 of the accommodation project had reached approximately 30% completion.
The university said as a result of the progress made, it was envisaged that the phase would be completed by December 2022.
Nangamso Makgoka, acting director of Built Environment, added that the interesting part of the project was that the 2 000-bed residence’s foundation was built on bedrock, thus giving assurance on the longevity and durability of the buildings.