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All first-year undergraduates to be accommodated in 2028

A new draft policy that aims for 100 percent of first-year undergraduates to be accommodated at university residences by 2028, says that residences should ideally be located on-campus, fitted with LCD TV's, DStv decoders and internet.

In 2010, the figure of students accommodated stood at just 5.3 percent. A new draft policy stipulates that by the end of next year, universities are to submit approved plans and strategies to phase in a number of minimum standards for student accommodation, for Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s perusal.

The draft policy was published in the Government Gazette last month. Already KwaZulu-Natal universities have committed to spending more than R1 billion on new student housing over the next three years, and millions more on revamping existing infrastructure. They have been under increasing pressure to meet the demand for accommodation in the face of student protests, and after Nzimande’s release of a shock report on the shortage and the dilapidated state of student residences.

The draft policy says while residences should ideally be located on-campus, they are to be situated no more than 20km from the university, with affordable and secure transport running at regular intervals from early morning to late at night. Student common rooms are to be fitted with LCD TV screens, DStv decoders and DVD players while internet access (wireless where possible) must be provided in all rooms and social spaces. Single rooms are to be no smaller than 8m2 and double rooms 14m2, with one wash basin for every four students and one enclosed toilet for every five. Self-catering student housing should have one stove for every six students, and a microwave for every 15.

University councils were to create committees composed of equal numbers of staff and students to govern residence life, which would meet quarterly and present the minutes of those meetings to the council. The number of residence students to residence staff should not exceed a 1:150 ratio.

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