The Minister of Higher Education and Training has gazetted a report on the Ministerial Committee for the Review of the Provision of Student Housing at South African Universities in GG No. 35540 (25 July 2012). The review was commissioned by the Minister because of the poor quality of student housing in which many students, especially in historically black universities, have been living – to the detriment of their tertiary success.
The Committee was appointed to review the real need for student accommodation across all public universities, to assess the various models of provision in place and to make recommendations for an improvement in the situation.
The report confirms that there are massive backlogs in the provision of student accommodation, that many institutions have lacked the funds to maintain their infrastructure and that too few students are accommodated. The report concludes that there is an urgent need to address the backlog and that this is primarily the duty of the state and the universities themselves, where possible. In addition to addressing the availability of accommodation, there is a need for the state to regulate the provision of accommodation by private providers to ensure quality, safety and to prevent the exploitation of students.
The report makes a number of recommendations, including: the setting of minimum standards for student housing; professionalising housing staff; and developing comprehensive admission and allocation policies.
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