Education funding and solutions provider Fundi has launched its new digital student accommodation platform.
Connecting both students and universities to accommodation suppliers in a safe, secure and transparent way, the platform addresses ongoing demand and supply imbalances in the market. It also seeks to redefine critical elements of the relationship between students, learning institutions and accommodation suppliers – creating new best practice for this growing sector.
The announcement is ideally timed, coming on the back of the recent State of the Nation Address which saw Government commit to spending R64 billion in student accommodation in the near future. With demand for student accommodation continuing to outstrip supply year-on-year, ownership of student properties has become a compelling financial opportunity for many. The market remains largely unregulated however, with students often having to make alternative arrangements if they are unable to find accommodation through the university where they are registered. This has significant implications for all parties: affecting everything from pricing to accommodation quality and, critically, student safety and security.
“These were just some of the challenges and key sector insights that inspired the vision for Fundi’s new student accommodation platform,” explains Mala Suriah, CMO: Fundi. “As a brand built on providing solutions to the education sector and 100% invested in student success, we are intimately aware of the direct relationship between quality accommodation and student results. This is why the provision of funding for accommodation has always been one of our core service offerings – extending well beyond assisting with tuition fees alone“.
“Given the current market realities of student accommodation and our in-house tech capability, our new platform is a natural extension of Fundi’s solutions offering. It not only speaks to this very real need but will also give greater visibility into the space going forward. This will ensure that we as the sector can collectively plan and manage better; essentially responding to trends in an informed and meaningful way.”
Featuring separate portals for students, universities and accommodation providers, the platform essentially connects an eco-system of partners including students; merchants; institutions and parents in a transparent and secure digital environment. It allows for online viewings of accommodation residences. With the platform launched today, the process of onboarding institutions and their suppliers will now officially begin. This will see the platform populated with accommodation options as the suppliers are registered. As such, the offering will grow significantly over time – with positive initial responses already received.
Beyond SONA, the launch comes just in time for the sector – with universities starting to welcome students back for the 2020 learning year. Accommodation supply has already been flagged as a concern by most however, with South Africa’s 26 universities gearing to accept just over 200 000 new entrants. “At some universities, accommodation is almost triple- subscribed,” says Suriah, citing UCT’s 16 000 applications for the 6 700 spaces available on campus. “This is before we consider that there are 135 private education institutions registered with the Department of Higher Education.”
While the platform was officially showcased to the industry today, it was designed and built with direct market inputs. “We’ve worked closely throughout with students, accommodation suppliers and education institutions to develop something for them with them,” says Suriah.
“We wanted the platform to speak directly to their ‘ideal’ – being not only fit-for-purpose but intuitive and easy to use. In this way, we’ve created another industry-first, which we will continue evolving to further enable this critical space and, ultimately, student success.”