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The Department of Higher Education and Training has developed policy guidelines on accommodation for students at universities.

Shortage of student accommodation, poor living conditions, safety issues have been hitting the headlines on a proactive basis about various institutes of higher education. The accommodation crisis has caused disgruntlement, rioting, matches, demonstrations and a lot of instability that has seen a lot of precious hours of learning being lost. Some university students are revolting about the under privileges that they exposed to compared to other universities. Seeing all this instability and unrest, the government has come up with what is hoped to be a solution to crisis in universities. The government has developed policy guidelines on accommodation for students at university. This policy is aiming to  elevate almost all universities to more or less the same standards.

The guidelines, which have been published in the Government Gazette, force tertiary educational institutions to cater for disabled students.

Department spokesman Khaye Nkwanyana said that previously there had been no policy regarding the safety of students. The new policy stipulates that all universities provide access to the internet in all residences.

Universities would be required to submit plans and strategies for the implementation of the policy by June. Wits spokesman Shirona Patel said the university meets the standards set by the Department of Higher Education and Training.

"Wits University is committed to providing students with 'living and learning areas' - accommodation that is comfortable, conducive to learning and meets the technological demands of our era," she said. Patel said the university already offers a range of options.

The secretary-general of the SA Student Congress, Luzuko Buku, said that the previously "black universities" were still battling to provide students with decent accommodation. Former "white universities" had acceptable facilities but black students were denied access because of racism, he said. Housing conditions in former black institutions are inferior. “In some of these universities students are forced to use cold water to shower, even in the middle of winter, and the food served is terrible.

"Accommodation is much better at previously white institutions but black students are excluded and forced to look for private accommodation, where there are concerns about safety," said Buku.

The leader of the DA-aligned student organisation Daso, Yusuf Cassim, said conditions differed substantially between previously black and previously white institutions.

"The conditions of student housing vary by university: generally the poorer, historically black institutions have very poor conditions, with students living in squalor.

"This is worsened by administrators who have entered into contracts with service providers who fleece the student funder, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, to pay for accommodation. “Students are overcharged and put into small, squalid rooms,” Cassim said.

It is essential for Facility Managers for Higher Institutes to know these guidelines and standards to help them stay above the legal compliance line stipulated by law. These new laws may even see a transformation in the working patterns and workload of Facility Manager. It is wise to know the stipulations and be a step ahead as reality is, Facility Managers must brace themselves for transfomation.

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