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Student housing – what do Gen Z want?

Young activists like Greta Thunberg, Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year, characterise the core values of Generation Z, namely radical activism, social inclusivity and eco-friendly lifestyles. Aged between 4 and 25, this post-millennial generation are currently in and entering university.

“With the most to lose from the negative effects of climate change, it’s no surprise that Gen Z’s are champions of going green. They want to see sustainability built into every aspect of student housing, from the construction of the buildings themselves, through to the day-to-day operations,” says John Schooling, Director of student accommodation group STAG African.

Gen Z’s are comfortable living in buildings that are designed to be environmentally responsible, even if it means additional effort on their part. Moving forward, grey water systems, energy-saving lightbulbs and recycling programmes need to be standard features of a university residence.

As the most socially inclusive generation yet, Gen Z’s expect on-campus student housing to be integrated and available to all, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. “As studying becomes accessible for more people across different income brackets, universities need to make affordability a primary concern. This means working to reduce capital cost per bed, as well as maintenance costs,” says Schooling.

“Gen Z’s have grown up around WiFi, smartphones and social media. With easy access to Google and YouTube, they’re accustomed to having infinite knowledge at their fingertips – they know what’s going on in the world, and they want to make a difference in it,” says Schooling.

New ideas about gender and the role it plays in society are also at work in defining what Gen Z wants out of student housing, explains Schooling. “They expect housing and bathrooms that do not discriminate based on gender – a concept they consider outdated and restrictive. At the same time, there is a call for increased focus on providing safety for young women and other vulnerable groups on campus. Gender neutral environments are a new consideration in terms of development; adapting to it will require sensitivity and openness on the part of the developer.”

STAG’s holistic approach to campus development is guided by principles of community, flexibility, technology, sustainability, innovation, affordability, job creation and transformation. “We are committed to developing student housing that has a positive impact on both students and the environment,” says Schooling.

STAG has pioneered a green, innovative alternative to world-class student accommodation. With over 10 years’ experience developing student housing, they have delivered more than 3 000 beds across South Africa, including the greenest residence in Africa at Stellenbosch University. They are 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. For more information, visit



Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications

Ciaran Maidwell

021 442 1082 / 072 693 9401


On behalf of:

John Schooling, Director, STAG African

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