GEORGE NEWS - The Nelson Mandela University (NMU) George Campus is currently addressing the challenges that come with the influx of new students to the facility.
Milisa Piko, the campus' communications manager, says as more students enter the higher education system each year, numerous challenges arise that highlight how the demand for tertiary education far outweighs the existing capacity.
"The demand for student accommodation is far greater than the current supply. There are simply not enough on-campus residence facilities to meet the growing demand, which has not been accompanied by the provision of adequate infrastructure."
Piko says for NMU, the immediate solution had been to secure additional beds at accredited off-campus accommodation establishments, supplementing more than 3 000 beds for its campuses. For the longer term, the university has been working on developing new on-campus residences to supply 2 000 beds in total - almost 200 beds at the George Campus, 800 at the Sanlam Student Village and a 1 000-bed residence in another part of North Campus.
She says that for many years, the university has assisted academically deserving, financially needy students in accessing higher education. Even with the new government funding model* implemented after the FeesMustFall protest movement, the university has kept a number of financial concessions in place to assist deserving students who meet the criteria.
Concessions include a down-payment exemption for full-time admitted first-year undergraduate students or those pursuing their first postgraduate qualification, whose combined household income does not exceed R600 000.
Given the demand for student accommodation, numerous opportunities arise for private accommodation providers operating in the areas around university campuses to house privately funded students. "In this instance, the contractual agreement is solely between the student and the property owner. Mandela University remains committed to utilising its resources to assist its students, in particular the poor and working class," says Piko. This is the reason for the institution's ongoing efforts towards securing suitable student accommodation that caters to students' needs for a safe, comfortable, secure and hygienic living environment that is conducive to learning, at a reasonable cost.
* The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) offers fully subsidised, free higher education and training for poor and working class South Africans.
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