Student housing receives boost with R3.2bn project

Johannesburg – Eight South African higher education institutions could soon be home to new residential facilities should various feasibility studies by the government pan out.

This was revealed in the budget preview document released by the National Treasury this week.

Walter Sisulu University in Eastern Cape would add 3 200 new beds should the feasibility study make a strong case.

The University of Johannesburg is earmarked for 2 048 new beds, Lephalale TVET College 1 200, Sekhukhune TVET College 1 500 and Central University of Technology 2 000 new beds. Cape Peninsula University of Technology is in line to get 2 150 new beds and Northlink TVET College could soon be able to house 1 500 more students.

The Treasury has put the price tag of the mooted projects at R3.2-billion. Feasibility studies on other projects have already been concluded.

This include a study on Tshwane University of Technology, which could see the institution open doors to 3 500 more students; the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s 3 000 newbeds project; Gert Sibande’s 1 500 beds infrastructure plan and Majuba TVET College is in line to be home to 1 500 new beds.

The Treasury said the bulk of the funding for the projects will come from the Student Housing Infrastructure Programme.

“The programme aims to address the acute backlog of student housing in higher education. As part of the R400-million allocated to the Development Bank of South Africa, R30-million will be used for project planning and preparation. The infrastructure fund will assist with structuring, financing and fundraising for phase two,” the budget review reads.

South African higher education institutions have been moving with speed to meet the ever-increasing needs for additional beds.

The North-West University (NWU) a few months ago conducted a site handover and briefed successful contractors on expectations ahead of the start of a two-year construction project for a 1 728-bed facility on its Mahikeng Campus.

The NWU Mahikeng student housing project will comprise six student residence units with guard houses and recreational areas. Currently, the NWU accredits off-campus accommodation providers to ensure suitable housing for its students.

The institution said it will continue to do so because the student accommodation need is great.

The government has acknowledged that an additional 300 000 beds are required to accommodate the nation’s students, though industry experts consider this a conservative figure.

For universities, the biggest challenge to providing student housing is the cost of building and maintenance.

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