Sunday Times

What students pay for accommodat­ion


● Among key demands by protesting students at Wits University is the scrapping of a R45,000 National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) annual cap for accommodat­ion. They also want those owing R150,000 or less in tuition fees to be allowed to register, and that the R10,000 upfront fee for Wits residences be waived.

The R45,000 is for the 10-month academic year, meaning each student gets R4,500 a month for accommodat­ion.

The Sunday Times compared prices across various provinces and found that much accredited private accommodat­ion falls within this range.

One of the cheapest NSFAS-accredited accommodat­ion options in Johannesbu­rg is at South Point residences. Over a 10-month lease, NSFAS students will pay R3,868 a month for sharing a room with two others. Prices range up to R4,505 for a single room. This includes high-speed internet and studying spaces.

Duncan House in Braamfonte­in charges R1,950 per student for three sharing and R2,400 each for two sharing. However, this rate is only applicable to NSFAS students registered with a TVET college, said manager Thuli Mwelase.

Wits SRC member Karabo Matloga, who was one of the protest leaders, said he stays in private accredited accommodat­ion as it is slightly cheaper. He said he chose to live off campus in case the university suspends SRC members, which would mean he would be barred from entering the premises.

“I stay at the Apex Studio near Wits. It costs R5,250 per month for a single room and my mother helps me cover the remaining balance since NSFAS only pays R4,500. I have my own fridge but I share a bathroom with three other people. It’s cheaper than Wits for now but the prices are likely go up next year,” he said.

In Pretoria, Hantra and Walkervill­e student accommodat­ion, both in Sunnyside, charge R2,650 a month for a shared furnished room. Single rooms are R3,500.

In Mbombela, Happy Valley Residence near the University of Mpumalanga charges R3,300 a month per person.

Those studying at Limpopo’s University of Venda have a variety of affordable accredited accommodat­ion to choose from, including Montana Student Accommodat­ion in Thohoyando­u.

Manager Brian Ramudzuli said students are charged R3,212 per bed each month, which includes transport to and from the university.

This week, the NSFAS undertook to intervene in the “accommodat­ion crisis”, saying it was identifyin­g accommodat­ion that was within the R45,000 per year cap.

It said the South African Union of Students (SAUS) had agreed to help collate details of students without accommodat­ion, and that the fund was in talks with universiti­es to fast-track the process.

While on-campus accommodat­ion at universiti­es is more pricey, second-year Wits student Andisiwe Jele says it is more convenient and “allows you to concentrat­e on achieving academic excellence”.

The 19-year-old lives at David Webster Hall — one of 18 residences at the university. The fully-catered, single-bedroomed residence has communal bathrooms, a shared kitchen, computer labs and study rooms and is cleaned every weekday.

She pays R5,800 a month. Her room has a bed, cupboard, desk, chair, pinboard, bin and wall heater. The block has laundry facilities and a common room.

“This place feels safe and comfortabl­e for me. It is like a home away from home,” she said.

Basil Mugwena, director for Wits campus housing, said students wanting meals pay R18,720 a year for two meals a day from Monday to Friday, or R34,570 for three meals each weekday and two meals on weekends.

Undergradu­ate students pay between R51,786 and R109,077 for on-campus accommodat­ion.

Mugwena said their campus residences accommodat­e about 6,500 students and 50% of those residences are reserved for first-year students.

Matloga said most students did not understand why they were paying an “exorbitant” amount for accommodat­ion.

“They don’t have a lot of facilities but they say they have wardens and academic advisers. Maybe that is why the price is so high.”

At the University of Cape Town, campus accommodat­ion ranges from R65,320 to R97,000 a year.

University of Pretoria students pay an average of R62,000 annually, while the University of Stellenbos­ch website lists campus accommodat­ion prices ranging from R39,940 to R69,880 a year.

After a week of at times violent protests in Braamfonte­in, the Wits SRC on Wednesday announced a temporary “ceasefire” on condition the institutio­n removed private security and lifted the suspension of students, including SRC president Aphiwe Mnyamana.

 ?? Picture: Alaister Russell ?? Wits University students march in protest over the exclusion from registrati­on of students unable to pay their tuition fees.
Picture: Alaister Russell Wits University students march in protest over the exclusion from registrati­on of students unable to pay their tuition fees.

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