Education, DBSA partner in student housing programme

Plans to accelerate development of at least 300,000 beds over 10-year period

Higher education minister Blade Nzimande
Higher education minister Blade Nzimande
Image: GCIS

To address the shortage of student accommodation, the department of higher education & training has partnered with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to establish the student housing infrastructure programme (Ship) to centrally facilitate the construction of these facilities.

Minister Blade Nzimande revealed this in a presentation on the department’s budget policy vote at the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday afternoon, saying this will also accelerate the development of at least 300,000 beds over a 10-year period.

“This will help provide the much-needed student housing infrastructure in our 26 public universities and 50 TVET [Technical Vocational Education & Training] colleges,” Nzimande said.

He said the department had completed feasibility studies for about 14,000 student beds as part of the Ship phase 1 developments, spread over six public universities. 

“University of Fort Hare has recently been completed and is one of the first institutions supported through the Ship phase 1 programme in the construction of their state-of-the-art student housing and student centre. 

“As part of its 2,000 student beds development, Nelson Mandela University also completed 200 beds for its George campus and is currently constructing 1,800 student beds at its main campus in Port Elizabeth, which is expected to be completed in December 2022,” Nzimande said. 

He said the University of North West was adding 2,700 beds and the University of the Western Cape was adding 1,700, with construction expected to be completed by the end of next year. 

“There are an additional 5,500 student beds included in the Ship phase 1 developments targeted for University of Limpopo and Sefako Makgatho University, which are at mature stages of funding and due to start construction shortly.

“The phase 1 Ship developments enabled an investment of about R3.5bn, including the DBSA commitment of R1.6bn debt funding for 12,000 student beds,” Nzimande said.

He said Ship phase 2 developments comprise of about 24,000 student beds that are made up of 12 institutions (six universities and six TVET colleges) in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Western Cape, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Free State. 

Nzimade said that the process to assess the total maintenance needs of TVET colleges was now under way and the department had identified about 50% of the demand, which is expected to be about R11.2bn.

“The sector has improved its spending on the College Infrastructure Efficiency Grant, which now has reported a commitment and spend, as of March 31, of R601.7m (24%) and with the commitment of R589m in supply chain management processes, this represents 48% expenditure on R2.5bn,” Nzimande said.

He said in addition to the rollout of the maintenance of TVET colleges, priority construction of new infrastructure was continuing within a downscaled budget as a result of the impact of the pandemic.

“I am pleased to report that of the 16 sites which we started to construct in 2014, Thabazimbi, Nkandla A, Umzimkhulu, Graaff-Reinet, Nongoma, Aliwal North and Bhambanana (phase 1) have been occupied by their recipient colleges.

“Msinga and Kwagqikasi sites are scheduled for completion within this quarter of 2021/22, with Balfour and Ngqungqushe in the third quarter of this year, and Greytown in the fourth quarter of this financial year,” Nzimande said.

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