However, Tuks ended their lease with Campus House and Urban Nest at the end of 2014. “These leases only provided limited relief. They also incurred a range of unexpected complications and expenses, in particular in terms of transport and security, and a resulting higher than expected deficit for the university,” said Prof. Mosia.

Tuks is currently leasing the entire Hatfield Studios facility for a period of three years. Prof. Mosia explained the decision by saying that “key criteria for additional accommodation have been proximity, the number of additional beds, the level of security as well as cost. By leasing Hatfield Studios, the university has been able to cut out the additional transport costs incurred in 2013 and 2014 and to improve the safety of its students.

Hatfield Studios is currently housing Klaradyn as their residence building is being renovated. Aside from that, the standard placement procedure for traditional residences does not apply to being allocated a room in Hatfield Studios. This strict criteria includes a minimum APS score off 33 for students entering first year.

“All students who cannot be accommodated in a traditional residence, are offered space in the additional facilities. For now this additional capacity is at Hatfield Studios. The strict academic peformance criteria that apply in the residences, do not apply to Hatfield Studios,” said Prof. Mosia.

Students have spoken out about the R52 300 annual accomodation fee that excludes electricity and several services include Wifi and laundry services. The university is subsidising the accomodation fee. In trying to keep the cost as low as possible for students, the university will incur a loss. The same applied to Campus House and Urban Nest. The university has considered this loss at Hatfield Studios in its budget. The cost of water is included in the rent,” said Prof. Mosia.

He went on to explain that students will have to pay for their own electricity consumption. because “allowing students to buy their own pre-paid electricity they can manage their own consumption and thus not cross-subsidise others, as is the case in traditional UP residences.”

Prof. Mosia defended the claims that many students on NSFAS have been placed in Hatfield Studios without the financial means to cover the accommodation fee along with other living and study costs by saying that according to [Tuks] statistics only 161 of the [975] students in Hatfield Studios are on NSFAS. When students are offered space in any residence, they are informed of the full cost and may, based on this information, choose to accept or decline the offer. Many of the students on NSFAS who were offered space in Hatfield Studios did not take up the offer and chose to pursue other private accommodation solutions,” he said.

Prof. Mosia added that “not all students receive the maximum NSFAS allocation and that, even in UP residences or accredited private accommodation, the NSFAS does not always cover the full cost. It is the responsibility of every student to seek ways to supplement their study financing in order to pay off any outstanding debts. Where students have a sound academic performance record, term arrangements can be made for the settlement of accounts.”Hatfield Studios was developed by Feenstra Group. Director of Feenstra Group Johann du Plessis explained that “the relationship [between Tuks and Feenstra Group] is purely a contractual one, with the university leasing Hatfield Studios from Hatfield Residences (Pty) (Ltd) as additional student accommodation for a specified lease period.

 

Photo: Hendro van der Merwe

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