Plans to boost quality of postgrad accommodation

28 May 2002
PLANS ARE underway to improve the quality of postgraduate accommodation on Campus, according to a recent report to Council, presented by the Director of Student Housing and Residence Life, Dr Ian Mackintosh.

"UCT is not meeting the demand for quality postgraduate accommodation or housing that appeals to international students from developed countries," he said. "There is an urgent need to improve the quality of housing stock."

He added that plans were under way to address the situation. In the immediate future, vacancies in the third tier of residence accommodation (for postgraduate students) would enable the department to empty Wolmunster during 2002 to refurbish the building as a quality residence for postgraduate and international students for 2003. In the longer term, he said that the planned Avenue Road housing project was crucial to UCT's attempts to meet this need and so support the faculties in their postgraduate recruitment targets.

The report said that according to preliminary figures, a total of 63% of students in UCT residences this year are black, 27% are white, 6% are Indian and 4% are coloured. The figures show increases in the proportion of Indian and white students (from 5% to 6% and 24% to 27%, respectively), and a decrease in black students from 67% to 63%.

A total of 3 943 new applicants had been offered residence places this year, with a take-up rate of 49% (1 951) by February 22. This was the same as last year's figure. There had also been an increase in the demand from first year female students, and as a result, 53 places in mixed residences were redesignated as female places. Some 3 652 returning students were offered accommodation with 73% (2 650) signing into residence initially. "The anticipated take-up, based on previous years, was 79% with the implementation of the new fee debt rules probably accounting for most of this negative shift in take-up rate," Mackintosh added.

The demand is still for four preferred residences: Kopano, Baxter, Fuller and Smuts. "Our attempts to meet the requirements of both our merit-based and equity goals meant we had to set high levels of matric points, differentiallyfor black and white students, for guaranteed entry to these residences. This allocation strategy enabled us to achieve a reasonably balanced mix of all population groups in most first tier residences." However, he said that this allocation mechanism would be reviewed during the year to ensure it was meeting student need as well as achieving Student Housing's and UCT's strategic goals.

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