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Tuks defends plans for residences

The University of Pretoria, popularly known as Tuks, has defended its plan to transform student residences because the move was in the context of its strategic vision regarding academic excellence.

“The university strives to create an environment in which resident students, and new first years in particular, can achieve academic success and participate in student life in a balanced and safe manner,” university spokesperson Isabel de Necker said.

She said it was against this backdrop that the university felt it necessary to review its residence policies, the upgrading and modernising of facilities, increasing residence capacity, refining rules and discipline and changing student preferences.

The plan to transform the residences include the separation of first year and senior students in terms of accommodation. However, the move has come under criticism from advocacy group AfriForum, which is a dominant organisation on the campus and has control over student formations such as the SRC and alumni.

AfriForum feels the university’s plan to transform residences was likely to negatively affect student culture on campus as certain traditions such as the Rag, Lenk Melodienk, Ser and the go-cart may be restricted. “Youth also questions why the decision was taken during the holiday and on which grounds,” AfriForum Youth Tuks chairperson Rochelle Oosthuyse said.

But De Necker said the university had, over the years, developed new models of student housing while retaining many of the traditional models.

She said the introduction of a number of first-year residences with mentorship programmes, tutorials and leadership initiatives was one of the options under consideration to improve academic success. “Consideration of various options including expansion of residence capacity will involve appropriate consultation with inter alia students who are affected. The university has a responsibility not only towards its students but also towards the wider community,” De Necker said.

The university plan has the support of RoomLink, which assists students to find accommodation off-campus. The organisation believes the plan will allow the average first years time to settle in.

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