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TUT’s Polokwane students in dire need of accommodation – survey

There is a dire need for accommodation among students of the Tshwane University of Technology’s (TUT) Polokwane Campus, preferably on or next to the campus. This is according to a report containing the results of a 2017 First-Year Initial Experiences Survey (FYIES) among first-years studying at the campus that was conducted by the Directorate: Quality Promotion (DQP) earlier this year.

When asked to suggest ways in which TUT can improve the overall student experience, 2017 Polokwane first-years indicated that University accommodation is the most important issue that needs to be addressed at the campus.

Most of the student accommodation concerns related to the distance they had to travel from where they are staying, and how it negatively impacts on their studies. Respondents said that they were often late in class because they travel from far and that transport to and from campus was expensive, unreliable and unsafe.

One of the 402 respondents (representing 47% of the total student population) said: “They have to build more residences; we are suffering because when coming to school, they rob us along the way.”  Only 8,5% of the respondents said they stay in a University residence.

Bigger premises and classes
Students indicated that bigger premises and classes, including the expansion of the library and Electronic Resource Centres (ERCs), could also improve their experience.

Respondents complained about over-crowdedness in classes as well as on campus. They expressed that it is often too hot due to the size and number of students in class, and that the air conditioners seldom work.

First-years also ranked the need for extra classes/tutorials quite high. According to the DQP report, the majority lament the fact that classes are too big in terms of student numbers, while the physical size is so small that they sometimes have to sit outside and aren’t able to see the lecturer, let alone engage in the lesson or ask questions.

The majority of the respondents were satisfied with most aspects related to first-year orientation and indicated that they would choose TUT again, given a second chance.

However, they made several suggestions for improvements. These included that orientation should be conducted prior to commencement of classes and another orientation session later in the year.

Other recommendations included the need to expand on sporting and entertainment facilities on campus, mentoring and interaction with lecturers outside of class time, and an automated security system.

Increase in response rate
 “A record number of first-year students participated in this year’s survey conducted at all campuses, with the response rate increasing by 12% on average across all campuses, compared to the previous years,” said Liile Lekena, Quality Advisor for Surveys and Institutional Research at the DQP. She added that the results will be discussed in detail at faculty/campus level before it serves at University decision-making bodies, such as Senate, Council and the EMC with a view of finding solutions and enhancing the experience of first-year students across all TUT campuses.

Dr Caroline Selepe, DQP Director, said the DQP takes students’ voices on their experiences of learning seriously. “I strongly believe that management will attend to the identified risks and challenges of the Polokwane campus in the short and long term action plans. TUT strives to be a student-centred university, hence the commitment to improve quality of its infrastructure is imperative. I thank the students for their continued evaluation of their learning environment. We can only improve when we receive valuable feedback from students,” she concluded.

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