Seminar told of student lodging crisis

- Bongani Nkosi

KING Hintsa Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), a public college in the Eastern Cape, enrols over 5 000 students across four campuses, but has one student residence with only 250 beds.

This residence is at the Teko campus in Gcuwa, which enrols about 1 000 students. The other three campuses – in Willowvale, Centane and Dutywa – have no residences.

Built in the 1950s, the residence at Teko campus is overcrowde­d and falling apart, and often has students going on protest over its condition.

The absence of accommodat­ion in the other campuses has resulted in students staying in shacks.

Noluthando Balfour, principal of King Hintsa TVET, told a symposium hosted by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande in Pretoria yesterday of the accommodat­ion crisis at the college.

“Teko campus is isolated in a remote area where there are no houses for students to get private residence. It’s in a bush, so we have to make sure that all the students that are enrolled are accommodat­ed in that campus,” Balfour said.

“It is even worse for Centane and Willowvale because those are remote areas ... we find our students in the back shacks,” she added.

King Hintsa offers just one example of student accommodat­ion crisis at the country’s universiti­es and TVET colleges.

The symposium heard various accounts pertaining to students housing difficulti­es. Nzimande is on a crusade to rope in the private sector to partner with government in its attempts to reverse student accommodat­ion backlog.

About 100 influentia­l individual­s from private and public institutio­ns including banks and property developmen­t attended the meeting. Nzimande revealed there was a shortage of 216 000 beds for students at the country’s universiti­es this year.

TVET colleges are in a much more dire position regarding student accommodat­ion. Nzimande revealed that 50 institutio­ns, with over 200 campuses across the country, house just over 1% of their 700 000 students.

Sello Mphahlele, a final-year student at the Tshwane University of Technology, told of how he was given accommodat­ion “after two-and-ahalf-years of suffering” in dodgy flats in downtown Pretoria.

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