Majority of international students privately accommodated

09 February 2016 | Story Newsroom. Photo Michael Hammond.

Only 125 (1.8%) out of a possible 6680 beds at UCT are allocated to Semester Study Abroad (SSA) students, most of whom are in fact accommodated privately.

This is the word from acting DVC Anwar Mall in response to criticism around the university's housing policy.

"It has come to our attention that there are rumours circulating that the university gives preference to international students over South African students, for student housing placement. This is not true.

"There has been a call on social media for international students on the SSA programme at UCT to be removed from UCT residences. As a university we reject this request," he added.

Mall explained that SSA students often come to UCT from partner universities worldwide, which have arrangements in place to receive UCT students and to provide scholarships for them to spend a semester studying at an international university.

In 2015, more than 60 UCT students were placed for a semester or more at universities around the world, and received substantial scholarship support from the partner universities enabling them to take up these opportunities.

"The value of internationalisation is reciprocal: UCT both sends and receives students as part of our exchange agreements. UCT students are often accommodated on campus at our international partner universities, and have reported to us that this integration into the heart of campus life is one of the most enriching elements of their exchange experience," Mall said.

UCT had the privilege of enrolling citizens of more than 100 countries as students on its campus each year, he explained. "We strive to be welcoming and supportive of all students, regardless of their nationality. Our vibrant and diverse community of international students and international staff are a critical part of UCT's standing in the global academic rankings and contribute to outputs the university is reputed for.

"We remain committed to addressing the housing needs of all students, especially South African students, but excluding international students from our residences is not the solution."

Mall pointed out that UCT only had sufficient beds for about 25% of its entire student body – 6680 beds for 27 000 students. This always presented challenges at the start of the academic year.

"We recognise the critical need for accommodation and know that many UCT students are in need of accommodation, and that this is a difficult time for them. We take this matter very seriously and the wellbeing of students and staff is important to us," he concluded.

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