We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

New student housing at Fort Hare aims to build sense of community

29 October 2019 - 12:41 By TimesLIVE
This new student housing development is set for completion in October 2020.
This new student housing development is set for completion in October 2020.
Image: STAG Africa

A total of 2,047 students will next year be able to live at new residences currently under construction at the University of Fort Hare, giving the Eastern Cape institution the highest ratio of students to beds in the country.

“Lack of accommodation is one of the biggest challenges we face at the University of Fort Hare. Most of our students come from rural areas and do not have accommodation options when they arrive here," said UFH vice-chancellor Prof Sakhela Buhlungu.

“Currently, our residences are barely able to accommodate 50% of our student population on our Alice campus. Our aim with this project is to house 65% of our students on this campus.”

Funded by the department of higher education and training, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the European Union, phase two of the project, valued at R400m, is set for completion in October 2020. Phase one, completed in 2014, saw 610 beds made available to the university. 

The new village will include a student centre and a dedicated postgraduate accommodation block.

The developer, Stag African, hopes the new residences will not only help ease the housing crisis at UFH, but also "create a student community conducive to academic success".

“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 co-founder John Schooling.

The demand for student housing is a result of a growth in demand for higher education in recent years.

According to the developer, studies confirm that students who live on campus have a 25% greater chance of passing than students who don't.

“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,” said 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.”