Universities Still Lack Capacity to House Students


South Africa has 26 public universities throughout its nine provinces, however, only specified institutions offer certain unique and specialised courses. Students wanting to study at these universities require accommodation, which is not always possible.




In 2022, The University Student Housing Survey found that there is a 287 507 total bed capacity at universities around the country, 184 973 of which are occupied by students funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas).

Universities are also encouraged to ensure that first-year students and Nsfas qualifying students are accommodated in university-managed residences. However, due to the high number of students requiring accommodation, not all students will be accommodated.

The Student Housing Infrastructure Programme (SHIP) was created to tackle the issue of student accommodation. The programme aims to provide another 300 000 beds at South Africa’s universities by 2023.

However, the SHIP programme is faced challenges in the form of delays due to no title deeds, rezoning and land claims on rural campuses as well as having to compete with private entities for land deals with the government.

Other challenges included limited planning, procurement and implementation capacity in institutions as well as a limited capacity in government to support programme preparation.

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande says government plans to ensure that universities increase their capacity to house students in residences close to the campuses.

Nzimande said, “The total amount currently available for investment in infrastructure projects across the 26 universities during the 2022/23 to 2023/24 MTEF period is R7.584 billion with R2.953 billion going towards student housing”

He explained the budgetary increase for student housing is expected to provide space for 16 858 beds across 11 universities. Around 15 890 new beds will be provided while 960 refurbished beds will be provided.

While Nzimande acknowledged the progress being made in this regard, he conceded that this progress is not enough. He hinted that partnership with the private sector could help ease the capacity challenges faced by universities about residencies.





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