Squatting students: Thousands without accommodation

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Thousands of students countrywide, are homeless on campus, having to squat in an office, a library or even toilets.

PRETORIA - For many South Africans, enrolling at university is a momentous event, and an opportunity to lift their families out of poverty.

But for thousands of students, simply finding a place to sleep is a constant distraction from their academic workload. 

Having a decent meal is an additional challenge.

"Hunting for food is also a challenge. Tonight, at least there's something in the donation box."

These students have been unable to find accommodation, let alone a place that provides a suitable environment for studying.

The Higher Education Department estimates around 216,000 students are without suitable accommodation, and almost 400,000 beds are needed to meet government's enrollment targets for 2030.

It admits many universities weren't built with student housing as a priority.

READ: UP students waiting for resident placement sleep rough

For some of these students, a morning routine includes having to dodge campus security to go about their ablutions, before heading to lectures.

Being homeless on campus means they have to make do with squatting in an office, a library or even in the toilet blocks. 

"Having to rough it in an empty office for yet another night."

At the Tshwane University of Technology, only 30-percent of the 60,000 students are housed in official university accommodation.

Some of the homeless have taken over the deserted top floor of the campus radio station.

At the University of the Western Cape, more than 40 students are squatting in a building that had been set alight during the Fees Must Fall protests in 2015.

It goes without saying that these living conditions are a health hazard.

The Checkpoint team looked beyond the numbers, to reveal a world of shattered dreams.

*Watch the video report in the gallery above.