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‘UCT turned down accommodation offers’

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UCT had known it would be short of student accommodation but had turned down offers of accommodation for nearly 800 students, say the directors of two different property firms.

They had foreseen the accommodation problem UCT now faced, but the university was seemingly not serious about the issue.

While UCT said queries about offers by property groups would need to be forwarded to its Student Housing office on Monday, the institution denied it was not serious about finding accommodation for its students.

Heriot Properties director Steven Herring said it had in 2014 obtained council approval to demolish a building in Mowbray and build a new building. The new building will have basement parking, retail on the ground floor and seven storeys to accommodate 545 students, and UCT was offered the residence on two occasions, he said.

“I came down (from Johannesburg) to meet UCT on three occasions. We met their property team. At the end of the day, we found UCT to be out of touch with market-related rentals for new buildings. I even made e-mail contact with the vice-chancellor at the time and never received a reply,” Herring said.

During talks UCT said its research showed that it would be short of 3 000 beds over the next 15 years, he said.

“UCT know they have a problem but it’s not a top priority to sort it out. Management have no incentive to deal with it on commercial terms. This is unfortunately the sad reality.”

Pland Properties managing director Ebrahim Kaskar said his firm had offered UCT two properties – one in Athlone that could accommodate 150 students and another in Salt River for 100 students.

He said the Athlone building was offered to the university about a year ago. And both the Salt River and Athlone properties were again offered to UCT this year, he said.

UCT declined because the accommodation was outside its Jammie Shuttle routes, Kasker said. “It appears that the management of UCT is not serious in resolving the residential crisis as accommodation like mine is available.”

UCT spokesperson Pat Lucas said the university’s housing staff were at work placing the remaining 30 senior students who were currently in temporary residence accommodation.

“All students who were offered accommodation have been placed and all first-year students have been placed within the residence system. Our residence policy ensures we give preference to financial aid students,” Lucas said.

“We wholeheartedly deny the allegations as being without evidence.”

[Source: iol]
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