‘Some students end up sleeping in the halls’ in hunt for accommodation

Picture: Leon Lestrade African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Providing accommodation for all students remains a national challenge, Stellenbosch University spokesperson Martin Viljoen said on Tuesday.

He was commenting on the thousands of students who since Sunday had flocked to tertiary institutions in an effort to secure accommodation at the student residences.

Viljoen said Stellenbosch University (SU) was excited about the year ahead and looking forward to welcoming more than 5 000 newcomer students towards the end of the month.

He said Stellenbosch was ready to avert an accommodation crisis.

“SU has approximately 2 300 beds available for first-year students on the Stellenbosch and Tygerberg campuses.”

Viljoen said offers had already been made to first-years qualifying for a place in residence and that the university also collaborates with private providers to offer additional private accredited accommodation.

University of Cape Town said it receives more applications than it can accept every year. UCT spokesperson Aamirah Sonday said this year it received 62 740 undergraduate applications to study in 2019 from approximately 32 000 applicants and can enrol only 4 200 first-year students.

“Due to capacity issues, the unfortunate reality is that there would be some applicants (traditional or walk-ins) who will not be accepted because of limited capacity,” she said.

The University of Western Cape said it can only take 4 300 first time entry undergraduate students this year. UWC spokesperson Gasant Abarder said they had set targets that are agreed upon with the Department of Higher Education and Training and “this is based upon resource capacity.”

Abarder said the planning in terms of intake takes cognisance of residences as well.

He said the university had plans for new or additional residences that would come online this year.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) District Six campus SRC chairperson Tumiso Mfisa said the issue of residence has always been a problem at their institution.

“Some students end up sleeping in the halls,” he said.

South African Union of Students spokesperson Thabo Shingange said as the union they call on the government to look into regulation of student accommodation “as the market prices in the hands of capitalists exploits the vulnerabilities and desperation of students across the sector.”

He said as a union they had been lobbying the government to look into refurbishing abandoned buildings and converting them to decent and affordable living community spaces for students.

Cape Argus

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