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Government buildings to house students

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande says the department is making steady progress in its joint work with the Department of Public Works to identify under-utilized government buildings to be converted into student accommodation.

Presenting the department’s Budget Vote to Parliament on Tuesday, Minister Nzimande acknowledged that the department’s Student Housing Infrastructure Programme (SHIP) is a major priority for the department.

“Given the large shortages in this area, our universities and colleges will still have to rely on privately owned student accommodation facilities. I however intend undertaking research to establish ownership patterns in this sector, in order to ensure that there is meaningful participation by all South Africans, especially black African owners and participation of youth and women, including co-operatives,” said Minister Nzimande.

The Minister said government continues to fund publicly owned student housing, like the new Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, in Ga-Rankuwa, where the department has allocated R1.2 billion over the next four years for infrastructure development.

He said part of this funding will provide decent housing for the students.

“We have already started with the first 2 000 beds. From next year, students who are now bussed daily to accommodation 50km away in the Pretoria CBD, will be properly housed on campus.”

In 2010, the department received a report from the Ministerial Task Team on Student Housing, which highlighted major challenges in student housing, including  maintenance, and a need to build approximately 200 000 new beds for universities alone.

Infrastructure Programme

Minister Nzimande announced that over the period 2016/17 and 2017/18, the department will have injected major new investments for infrastructure development at universities amounting to R6.964 billion.

The amount includes:

    R2.1 billion will be for student housing development;
    R1.475 billion will go to universities to refurbish and update current infrastructure and to deal with backlog maintenance;
    R2 billion is for building Sol Plaatje University and the University of Mpumalanga;
    R600 million is earmarked for Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University to enable its development as a new university;
    R248.9 million is for infrastructure projects at Historically Disadvantaged Institutions linked to their individual development plans; and
    R300 million is for priority projects to be identified by universities, and which may include improving disability access, well-founded laboratories, security upgrades or infrastructure and communication technology developments.

 

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