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Covid-19 compounds student housing crisis

The construction industry in South Africa has been brought to a halt by the spread of Covid-19. With the pandemic placing pressure on supply chains and availability of labour, the initial reaction post-lockdown may be to increase construction costs to recoup losses. For universities already grappling with a shortage of student beds and constrained budgets, increased construction costs will have a knock-on effect as projects are delayed or cancelled.

“Considering the existing student housing crisis in South Africa, the setbacks of a halted construction industry will be long-term and far reaching. As accommodation developments stall, next year will once again see students struggling to find suitable accommodation. In fact, we expect the situation to be more dire than in previous years,” says John Schooling, CEO at student accommodation group STAG African.

The Department of Education has acknowledged that an additional 300 000 beds are required to accommodate the nation’s students, although industry experts consider this a conservative figure. For universities, the biggest challenge to providing student housing has been the cost of building and maintenance. If construction prices go up, the supply of student accommodation will be severely stalled.

“Now is a good time for construction companies to look at each line item of cost involved in construction and ask how they can reduce capital and operating costs. Using green building practices, for example, can reduce the building time by 40%, which has the effect of dramatically reducing other associated costs,” say Schooling.

Schooling urges those in the construction industry to consider their role in ensuring the success of South African students. “Lack of accommodation has been directly linked to higher failure and dropout rates for first year students. Affordable, quality student accommodation is therefore critical for the success of not only individual students, but the country as a whole,” says Schooling.

Working from an affordable price backwards, STAG African has specialised in sourcing funding, designing and constructing world-class student accommodation. The company pioneered the use of innovative and green building technologies in the construction of residences, reducing construction and maintenance costs. For more information, visit

“Now, more than ever, South Africa is in dire need of successful graduates to drive the country forward; the way to do that is through affordable student housing. Providing affordable housing is crucial to ensuring student success,” says Schooling.



Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications

Ciaran Maidwell

021 442 1082 / 072 693 9401

On behalf of:

John Schooling, CEO, STAG African

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