According to a report tabled by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande and released in February 2012, there were 107 598 university residence beds available in 2010, which accommodated only 20 percent of enrolled full-time students. The report estimated the residence bed shortage at that time to be approximately 195 815. The report estimates the cost to government of overcoming this shortage over a period of 10 years at R82.4 billion. Facing costs like this, Nzimande conceded that the private sector is a significant contributor and stakeholder in the provision of accommodation to students.
In response to this accommodation shortage, one such private sector stakeholder, CampusKey (Pty) Ltd, is developing fully furnished student accommodation which will comprise a 450 bed residence bordering the University of the Free State with another 300 beds to be added in 2015. In Gauteng, land has already been secured for a 128 bed development within walking distance of the University of Pretoria’s main campus and High Performance Centre, due for completion in 2015.
CampusKey has already completed a 280 bed residence at North West University in Potchefstroom and 394 beds in four residences at the University of Stellenbosch, with additional 440 and 90 bed residences planned for each of these universities respectively.
“With the severe shortage of student accommodation that South Africa is currently experiencing, Nedbank embraces this opportunity to provide the necessary funding for this quality accommodation at two of the country’s key universities,” says Richard Thomas, regional executive of Nedbank Corporate Property Finance, Cape. Thomas adds that, while CampusKey is relatively new in the student accommodation market, its top quality accommodation offers security features, communal facilities and a cohesive student environment that is gaining popularity on the campuses where it already operates.
“We also took into consideration the individuals behind the transaction who have substantial property knowledge, and the hands-on approach of the CampusKey management team and their continued striving for excellence in delivery when considering the funding,” adds Thomas.
According to the developer, the potential for developing quality student accommodation at these four universities has barely been tapped so far. “Based on our research, these four campuses alone are short of around 98 850 beds and our short term objective is to supply close to 4 000 of these,” says Antoin van Rensburg, CampusKey’s Director.
The residence at the University of the Free State will consist of six blocks of triple storey fully furnished student accommodation, housing 450 beds in a combination of bachelor and two bedroom units, as well as parking bays. Communal areas will include a gym, laundry facilities and a clubhouse with various functional areas, such as small meeting rooms for group studying and lounges with DSTV, a games area with pool table, foosball and braai facilities which are all available for the students’ enjoyment at no extra cost. Security features will include a biometric entry system to buildings and individual rooms, CCTV surveillance and a 24 hour central control room at the head office in Stellenbosch.
The University of Pretoria development will comprise three blocks of triple storey accommodation, housing a total of 66 two bedroom en-suite units, thereby offering 132 beds. Parking bays will be available for residents, as well as the same communal facilities and security features offered at the UFS residence.
“We have visited many overseas residences and are continuously researching best practices and getting feedback from our students in order to offer the best possible environment where students can live, learn and socialise in a safe, happy and balanced environment,” says van Rensburg. “We are very selective about our locations, and only consider locations within easy walking distance from the campus. Parking around universities is notoriously scarce and expensive. Our students don’t really need cars, as we offer ample secure bicycle storage and most students cycle or walk to class.”
All CampusKey developments provide residents with additional value added services including 24 hour stand-by assistance, free Wi-Fi and student guides that offer practical advice and information about everything from moving in procedures to getting around local amenities.
“Nedbank is especially excited about financing these projects as we welcome clients of the calibre of CampusKey on board, particularly as relationships and adding value to our clients are key factors to us.” concludes Thomas.