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Friday Apr 19, 2013

Comments invited on new draft policy on student accomodation

Internet access for all student rooms and monthly hygiene inspections at university food preparation facilities are some of the proposals in the draft policy on student accommodation.

A student studies at her apartment at City Waldorf in Joburg.

The Department of Higher Education and Training has released for public comment a draft policy on student housing at public universities and minimum norms and standards.

The policy is aimed at regulating the provision of student accommodation on and off campus and must be implemented by all public universities and university-accredited student-housing providers.

The deadline for submissions is May 10.

The introduction of the policy was prompted by a review report on student accommodation that looked at student housing at 23 universities.

The report, which was released in February, found that only 20 percent of students were being accommodated at universities.

Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande said: "Most disconcerting though is that only 5.3 percent of first-year students, those arguably in the greatest need of accommodation, are in residences."

In addition to the shortage of residences, which sometimes led to students spending too much time and money travelling to and from campuses, the report found that the facilities that were available weren't well maintained.

The report revealed that in some instances, up to eight students shared one room.

On catering facilities, the committee that compiled the report found that "many kitchens observed during site visits were poorly furnished and equipped, and in some cases... had no stoves, with students expected to bring their own".

The new policy proposes that food preparation facilities and communal self-catering areas will be inspected regularly.

The policy also proposes that residences should be situated within the campus security perimeter to afford "students the freedom to make full use of academic, social, cultural and sporting programmes of the university without restriction". Off-campus accommodation should be no more than 20km from the campus, and "affordable and safe" transport that runs at regular intervals from early morning to late at night should be provided.

"Any new planned university-owned or lease student residency that does not conform to the 20km radius must be submitted to the department for approval."

The policy also requires universities to come up with strategies to increase the number of first-year students accommodated at residences.

The department aims to increase the 5.3 percent of first-year students in residences to 20 percent by 2018.

Minimum design standards for new accommodation buildings:

  • A single room must not be smaller than 8m² and a double room no smaller than 14m².

  • Wash basins should be shared one per four students.

  • Shower cubicle - one per seven students.

  • Toilets - one per five students.

  • No communal showers or toilets allowed - shower and toilet cubicle must be designed in such a way that there is individual privacy. Catering: Suitable food storage, preparation and kitchen space must be provided.

  • Stoves - one per six students. Sink - one per 15 students. Lockable cupboards - one per student.

  • Microwave - one per 15 students.

    Source: Department of Higher Education and Training

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