Across the country, South African university students are wrapping up their end-of-year exams. For those living on-campus, wi-fi access and study groups are readily available to help them prepare. For students who did not get into university residences, living conditions and inadequate resources may have set them up to fail.
According to the Council for Higher Education, only 50% of bachelor students graduate in the expected time, with 20% of students taking an additional two years to complete their degrees. “First year is a critical period – especially for students coming from disadvantaged schools. Adapting to an intense academic schedule and being independent for the first time is stressful enough, without having to worry about living conditions off campus,” says John Schooling, co-founder of student accommodation group, STAG African.
A first-year student in good on-campus accommodation has an 80% chance of passing, and is 50% less likely to drop out, according to Schooling; “Good on-campus accommodation means providing more than just beds. Safety, internet connectivity, access to resources and social support, is critical to a student’s ability to succeed. By allowing students to focus on their work instead of spending their energy on survival, good student housing contributes to academic success.”
Students who do not get into university residences are forced to seek accommodation elsewhere. For some, the only affordable options are far from campus, in areas with high crime rates and little infrastructure. Accommodation in these areas is not always academically conducive or well-regulated – students can find themselves housing that is over-crowded and under-serviced. Reports of six students sharing a tiny room without working ablutions are not uncommon.
“Over 60% of learning at the tertiary level occurs outside of a lecture hall. By providing access to necessary resources and creating a sense of community, universities can help facilitate the transition from high school and family life to university and independence,” says Schooling.
STAG is currently developing a 2 047-bed student village at the University of Fort Hare. This is the largest student accommodation development ever undertaken by a South African public university. They are also in the process of funding the development of 34 000 beds at universities in Kenya, 4 700 in Malawi, 5 400 in Zambia and 3 000 in Lesotho. For more information, visit www.stagprop.com.
Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications:
021 447 1082 / 072 693 9401
On behalf of STAG African:
Co-founder: John Schooling