Partnerships forged by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University with private property owners throughout the metro have helped to alleviate annual accommodation shortages for its students.
An initiative started in 2012 to expand the University’s present on-campus accommodation by offering accredited off-campus accommodation means the Eastern Cape university now has a further 3 500 beds to offer its students. It presently has accommodation for 3 716 students on campus in Port Elizabeth and George.
In light of the financial challenges facing students as brought in to sharp focus during the #FeesMustFall movement late last year, NMMU also negotiated a 0% increase with the landlords of these private properties.
“We’re committed to assisting our students. We’re trying to keep costs down, knowing that living away from home can be costly,” says NMMU acting Dean of Students Mxolisi Ncapayi.
University residence fees cost about R20 000 a year on average. Accredited off-campus accommodation is similarly priced at between R1 900 to R3 000 a month. Private landlords not linked to the university also offer accommodation from about R2 000 up.
As with its tuition fees, NMMU has introduced down payment relief for students who are academically-deserving but financially challenged. The down payment fee of R4 500 for on-campus students is deferred until the student can cover costs during the year. The option is not available for accredited off-campus properties.
NMMU is also temporarily assisting new students who have arrived without confirmed accommodation.
“We are even working at weekends as more and more students, including ‘walk-ins’, arrive. We are doing everything in our power to assist each student,” said Director: Student Housing Learning Programmes Dr Shuping Mpuru.
At present NMMU is assisting about 30 students with accommodation off-campus and is transporting them to and from their premises to the University daily until alternative arrangements can be made.
He said that although on-campus residences were full, there were still vacancies in the accredited off-campus facilities.
Since 2012 NMMU has forged partnerships with many private landlords whose properties must meet certain criteria for them to be accredited. There are at least 21 large properties throughout the metro that are exclusively used by NMMU students.
The bulk of these properties are in Central, with four in North End and Sydenham and many smaller sites in Summerstand, Humewood and Forest Hill, adjacent to North, South and Second Avenue campuses.
NMMU strives to ensure that the off-campus facilities are on a par with those offered on campus.
“The services rendered by the University in these properties are improving annually. We have introduced student leadership structures and NMMU employs co-ordinators to monitor the services provided,” said Dr Mpuru.
An assessment of accommodation needs is undertaken annually by Student Housing, and accreditation and inspections of these off-campus properties are on-going. On average, 500 new beds are offered annually.
NMMU has about 27 000 students, 70% of whom come from the Eastern Cape. 60% of this number come from the metro and live at home.
The Department of Higher Education and Training wants to see 40% of NMMU’s students living on campus by 2020 – a target NMMU wishes to meet.
NMMU is hoping to add up to 2 000 beds in new on-campus residences in the near future, dependent on government funding.
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