Pretoria – Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande says government is making a major push to ensure much greater availability of decent, affordable student accommodation at the country’s public universities and colleges.
Speaking on Tuesday, after answering a question on student housing from the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the National Assembly, Minister Nzimande said the department was seized with this initiative.
He said government realised that empowering young people for the future with knowledge and skills had a much greater chance of success if they had a decent, safe, affordable and accessible place to live while studying.
The Minister said the challenges faced by tertiary institutions in providing lodgings for as many of their needy students as possible, is an immediate result of the government’s successes in recent years in expanding access to post-school education.
“It is a simple matter of logic therefore that if we want these young people to realise their potential and contribute to the growth of our economy, we must assist them with housing while they are studying.
“It is in this regard that in July last year we once again brought together students, universities, colleges, banks, pension funds and other long-term investors such as development finance institutions to thrash out a way forward. Our aim is to see accommodation for 300 000 students built in the next 10 years,” Minister Nzimande said.
He added that in 2016, the total number of available beds at public universities stood at 115 040. The total number of beds expected to be available between 2017 and 2020 is 28 690.