Students turned away from residences for the second year in a row.
By Tessa Knight
For the second year in a row, UCT residences have been overbooked and students have been turned away. Some have been forced to acquire private accommodation at the last moment.
Although the university over-allocates student accommodation each year, the number of students who have taken up offers of residence this year is greater than usual. Over-allocation of student accommodation is not a new phenomenon, however. Many university residences are over-booked at the beginning of each academic year, as the number of students who actually arrive on move-in day varies. Offers of residence may be retracted after matric results are released, or students may chose to study at alternative institutions without notice. Consequently, residences are over-booked with the knowledge that some students who have been allocated a room will not actually take-up the offer of accommodation. In the past, UCT has documented an average no-show rate of approximately 10%-15% on all offers of accommodation made.
In 2018, the over-offer rate of first tier residences was 112%, while second tier residences were over-booked by 121%. First tier residences house undergraduate students who are under the age of 21, while second tier residences are available to postgraduates and senior undergraduates. Although residences officially opened on Saturday, many postgraduate courses had already started. Consequently, postgraduate students were most negatively affected by the current housing problems.
According to the UCT Communication and Marketing Department, only 80 students who were given accommodation offers have yet to be placed in residences. Since the opening of residences on Saturday, approximately 86% of available rooms have been claimed, leaving an estimated 900 out of 6 800 places available for students without anywhere to stay.
VARSITY was put into contact with one of the students affected by the current housing crisis via the @uctjustkidding Instagram account. The returning international student, who chose to remain anonymous, claims that he was allocated a room in Forest Hill, but, due to overbooking, was not able to take up residence when he arrived on Saturday. Instead, the Student Housing Department offered to pay for him to stay at Riverview Lodge while he waited for them to organise him permanent accommodation. After three days of no contact, the third-year student chose to take matters into his own hands, and went to speak to the Student Housing Department himself. He was allocated a space in Kopano residence.
VARSITY attempted to contact the Student Housing Department but received no response. Any students who have been offered accommodation and are still struggling with residence challenges are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org. Students who have not been allocated student accommodation can contact UCT’s Off Campus Student Accommodation Services at email@example.com, or visit DigsConnect.