Property developer STAG African is constructing the largest student housing project in South Africa to help tackle what is says is a student accommodation problem facing the country.
The project which is in the second phase is being developed at University of Fort Hare (UFH). The first phase was completed in 2014 saw 610 beds made available to the university.
Completion of phase two, set to cost R400 million, will bring the total number of beds handed over to 2,047 – giving UFH the highest ratio of students to beds in the country.
UFH Vice Chancellor professor Sakhela Buhlungu acknowledges that Lack of accommodation is one of the biggest challenges the university faces.
“Most of our students come from rural areas and do not have accommodation options when they arrive here,” he said.
On his part, STAG African co-founder John Schooling said that they aim to create a sense of community and a feeling of belonging.
“Good student accommodation is about more than just beds. Our vision for this development goes beyond providing accommodation; we want to create a sense of community and a feeling of belonging,” said Schooling.
Earlier this year, government acknowledged that an additional 300 000 beds are required to accommodate the nation’s students.
The student housing crisis is a result of a growth in demand for higher education in recent years.
The lack of accommodation has been directly liked to higher failure and dropout rates for first year students.
Studies confirm that students who live on-campus have a 25 percent greater chance of passing than students who are not residents on campus.
“When a student is placed in temporary accommodation or is required to stay in accommodation that is unsafe, overcrowded and unhygienic, it’s no surprise when they can’t cope,” says Schooling.
“We need to create the right conditions for academic success, and that starts with providing good accommodation. Once we do that, students can focus on achieving the results they need to be successful.”