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Minister pleads communities for cheap accommodation

The Namibian minister for Higher Education, Itah Kandjii-Murangi, has appealed to communities surrounding local universities to assist students with cheaper and quality accommodation.

She said this while responding in parliament to DTA of Namibia's Nico Smit on the threat by the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) to erect shacks at universities as a way to curb accommodation issues at universities.

Kandjii-Murangi said currently, 13 000 students are admitted at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust), but there is accommodation for only 420 students.

She said of the 13 000, there are 5 500 students from the Khomas region while 7 500 are from other regions.

“With just over 400 spaces in the hostels, securing a place at these facilities is a great challenge. This year, 625 applications were received, and 320 senior students are accommodated. The remaining rooms are reserved for first-years, who are assisted on a first-come first-served basis,” explained the minister.

According to her, the situation is the same at the University of Namibia. However, due to the construction of the Emona hostels through a public-private partnership (PPP), an additional 1 152 students are now resident at the facility while the main campus accommodates 1 080.

Only 29% (192) of the 648 students at the School of Medicine are accommodated in the hostel, while at the Khomasdal campus, only 300 of the 994 students reside on campus. At Neudamm, 153 out of the 205 live on campus.

“There is clearly a dire need for more hostels to accommodate students as some come from different parts of the country, and the accommodation shortage is potentially detrimental to their studies. The need for an increase in private and public funding for infrastructural development cannot be overemphasised,” said Kandjii-Murangi.

She further said that due to budgetary concerns, there are no plans by government to expand hostel facilities at NUST.

“Unfortunately due to budgetary concerns and space constrains, there are no plans for next year to expand hostel facilities, meaning the university will only accommodate the same number of students for 2017,” said the minister.

On the issue of high rental fees that students are subjected to, Kandjii-Murangi said she is aware of the issue, and that it is indeed a great problem.

“Unfortunately, the demand and supply for accommodation in Windhoek is driven by various socio-economic factors, to such an extent that even when we engage private entities to put up facilities that could be affordable for students, rental fees still remain exhorbitant,” she added.

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