Run-down buildings in inner cities should be used to help combat the student accommodation shortage around universities in the country, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has said.
Speaking at the inaugural human settlements conference in Port Elizabeth last week, Sisulu told delegates her department would be working with the Department of Higher Education and Training to develop a model to increase student accommodation.
“As government we believe that some of the run-down buildings in our inner cities can be used for accommodating students; we believe this can be a chance for young developers to enter the property market,” said Sisulu. “We are working on this as an urgent project.”
Sisulu said she had been meeting with developers and private investors and owners of buildings in the inner cities to work out a plan and model.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande earlier this year reiterated that the higher education budget was not enough to deal with the 200,000bed shortage of accommodation at tertiary institutions.
In the past three years, he said, R1.6bn allocated for grants for student housing projects was supplemented by university funds of R700m. The combined amount of R2.3bn provided for only 9,000 beds.
Nzimande said this year his department, with its partners, would provide 15,000 new beds in 11 of SA’s universities and vocational colleges.
Universities across the country are embroiled in often violent protests that have shut down academic programmes for weeks on end. The main reason for the protests are funding shortages and the cost of university education, which poor students find prohibitive in their quest to obtain education. Student accommodation costs more than tuition fees.
Sisulu called on the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth to conduct research on the change of ownership in the government subsidised housing sector.
She said initial results of desktop research suggested that many beneficiaries were selling their houses, sometimes illegally, when legislation was clear that they needed to live in the house for more than eight years.
The minister also told the conference that her department, assisted by the Housing Development Agency and the National Home Builders Regulatory Council, would continue to support the housing programmes of all municipalities.
source: Business Day