Students’ squeeze

2010-01-29 00:00

THE ability to accommodate all students who require housing remains a serious challenge for higher education institutions. But universities say they are doing all they can, with many having to outsource external residences in an attempt to close the gap.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) said it has enrolled about 38 000 students each year in the past three years. However, its facilities can only accommodate about 8 000 students.

This meant that the university had to begin a process late last year to secure external residences to accommodate students in order to cope with the demand this academic year.

Nomonde Mbadi, who is the executive director of corporate relations at UKZN, said that over the past few years, it has invested R179 million in student residences. Recently, R130 million financed an 885-bed residence at its Westville Campus, while R49 million was spent on a 220-bed residence for medical students on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

Mbadi said the university accommodates around 1 500 students off campus.

She said the university has also established a private accommodation unit, which has a list of private landlords in the areas around their five campuses.

The unit also serves as an advisory body to both students and landlords.

The Durban University of Technology (DUT) said accommodation in Durban is limited and it is difficult to source something suitable for students.

While the university said it may not be able to satisfy all accommodation requirements for its student population, Bhekani Dlamini, the acting communication manager, said the university tries to increase the number of beds available on a yearly basis.

But the onus is on the students to find their own accommodation, he said.

“In sourcing out external residences, DUT employs a very rigorous process that looks at a number of areas. All our residences are based in central Durban in close proximity to the university with 24-hour security.

“Free transport to and from the university is provided to residence students,” Dlamini said.

Mangosuthu University of Technology has decided to tackle the problem by allocating rooms per faculty.

That means if the engineering faculty, for instance, accounts for 40% of the student population, it will be entitled to 40% of student residence.

Sbongiseni Makhathini, the residence superintendent, said the system has been working well.

“On one hand we have a responsibility to create an environment conducive to learning, but the reality is we can’t keep up with the demand. We can’t afford it.”

A factor contributing to the draining of university funds has been sourcing outside residences, which Makhathini said has become burdensome in that universities are bound to a three-year lease regardless of whether enrolment is on the rise. They also have to make payments during holidays.

This is why they are grateful for an active student representative council that has encouraged students to consider the approach of private accommodation, which the university has agreed to facilitate, he said.

“We have introduced a pre-allocation system so that semester students can apply now for accommodation next semester.

“This will help them know early so that they have enough time to look for private accommodation. For the past years we have been housing 40% of our enrolment population. We are making arrangements to take on more, which will be approaching 50%.”

Makhathini said this and many other exciting initiatives like mentorship programmes will be introduced to help make the accommodation process smoother and help students make the most of their residence life.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.