The construction of the largest student housing project in South Africa at the University of Fort Hare (UFH), in the Eastern Cape is set for completion in 2020. The mega project will be one of the largest student housing projects ever undertaken by a South African public university.
The Department of Higher Education and Training, the European Union and the Development Bank of Southern Africa are funding the project which is currently in Phase 2 and is valued at US $27m. Phase 1 of the 2,000-bed student housing project was completed in 2014 and added 610 beds to the university while Phase 2 will bring the total beds available to 2,047.
Easing accommodation congestion at UFH
Once completed the new residences will help ease congestion at the university and create a student community that is conducive to academic success. The housing project will also add a student center and a dedicated postgraduate accommodation block.
“Our biggest challenge at UFH is lack of accommodation considering most of our students come from rural areas and therefore they have no accommodation when they arrive here. Our current residences can barely accommodate 50% of our student population on our Alice campus,” says UFH vice-chancellor Professor Sakhela Buhlungu.
“The main aim of this project is to house over 65% of students on campus,” added Professor Buhlungu who noted that they are aiming at accommodating all students in the coming years as the population grows.
The government of South Africa this year acknowledged that an additional 300,000 beds are needed to accommodate the nation’s students. On the other side, STAG states that students who reside on campus have a 25% greater chance of passing than those who do not reside on campus. STAG is also expanding student accommodation facilities in other countries including developing 3000, beds in Lesotho, 34,000 beds in Kenya, 4,700 beds in Malawi and 5,400 in Zambia.