President Cyril Ramaphosa spent some time during his fourth State of the Nation Address on Thursday focusing on students and the challenges they faced.
Many students don’t have places to sleep after lectures and resort to sleeping in libraries and other places on campus. The president underscored issues students faced regarding accommodation. “The young people who are at university and TVET Colleges face serious accommodation challenges.” Some don’t even have places to sleep after lectures and resort to sleeping anywhere.
The president spoke about infrastructure plans that included accommodation for students. “The Infrastructure Fund implementation team has finalised the list of shovel-ready projects and has begun work to expand private investment into public infrastructure sectors with revenue streams. These include areas like student accommodation, social housing, independent water production, rail freight branch lines, embedded electricity generation, municipal bulk infrastructure, and broadband roll-out,” he says.
The project has potential investments of over R700-billion over the next 10 years, he says, and included both government and non-government contributions. “We are going to spend R64-billion over the next years in student accommodation and will leverage at least another R64-billion in private investment,” he says, adding that the project was ready to go.
“This is a wonderful initiative by government and will go far in terms of addressing the student accommodation crisis. However, the devil is in the details – making the money available is a positive move and will cover basically 50% of the cost of the current accommodation shortfall. The next step is figuring out how this will be implemented at a university level and how we are going to get the money allocated to buildings on the ground,” says John Schooling, Director at student accommodation group STAG African.