No place to lay their heads...

02 February 2015 - 02:07 By Poppy Louw

Universities are battling to find accommodation for a growing student population.

The Department of Higher Education and Training estimates there is a 200000-bed backlog at national tertiary institutions.

In the last five years, universities and off-campus housing establishments have increased capacity by more than 15000 beds.

Construction of a 200-bed residence at Stellenbosch University began last Monday.

The University of Cape Town's Obz Square opened in January 2012 for 880 students.

University of KwaZulu-Natal spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said plans to build more on-campus residences were "afoot".

Lacea Loader, University of the Free State spokesman, said the institution had built five new residences.

In 2011, the University of Johannesburg increased its accommodation capacity by 712 when it opened two new residences.

Construction of a 300-bed residence at its Soweto campus began in May, and will be completed this year.

A student village is being built at the University of Fort Hare campus in the Eastern Cape, to accommodate 2046 students. The university has also transformed its dining halls into residences.

At the Eastern Cape's Walter Sisulu University, a R40-million residence will be completed this month.

In addition three University of Pretoria residences opened their doors last month.