More beds for desperate Wits students

File: A former nurses' residence has been converted into student housing for Wits University. Photo: eNCA

JOHANNESBURG - The Gauteng and national governments handed over a building to Wits University on Thursday in a joint effort to address the crisis in student accommodation.

Last year's #FeesMustFall protests were not only about the cost of tuition but also about the lack of affordable, quality student housing. 

"This handover ceremony shows that it is indeed possible to collaborate as government in order to provide student accommodation as an urgent intervention," said Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande.

The building was previously used to house nurses. It was renovated before being handed over to the university.

READ: Squatting students: Thousands without accommodation

The Gauteng provincial government said this was the first of many buildings it had identified to be refurbished and given to different tertiary institutions to accommodate students. 

"I'm very pleased that today we are unveiling government property in the Gauteng province that we will make available to tertiary institutions in our province, which will include TVET colleges as well," said Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements Jacob Mamabolo. 

One of the student activists on the front lines of the demonstrations last year said while the government's efforts should be applauded, more needed to be done. 

"I commend the government for looking for solutions. This is another creative solution, and we must be fair and give credit," said former Wits SRC leader Fasiha Hassan.

"But we need something that's more [included in] our legislation. We need something that says if a student applies to a university and needs accommodation they won't be turned away."



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