SA Affordable Housing January / February 2017 // Issue: 62 - Page 27

FEATURES With its ability to regulate both air humidity and temperature, a brick building maintains a comfortable interior throughout hot, rainy months – rooms don’t become dank and stuffy. Double leaf clay brick walls minimise interior damp and condensation in winter rainfall regions like the western and southern Cape. Student health: Students are not the tidiest of tenants. Clay bricks are resistant to damage from borer and termites, moulds and fungi, insects and rodents. They do not release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) or toxic gases, which results in excellent indoor air quality. OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE PRIVATE SECTOR At the recent Student Housing Symposium at the University of Pretoria, Blade Nzimande (South African Minister of Higher Education and Training) admitted that his department had insufficient funds to deal with the backlog and needed assistance from the private sector. He said in the past three years, R1.6-billion in government grants to universities for student housing projects had been supplemented by university funds of R700-million. The combined amount had provided only 9 000 additional beds. This leaves plenty of opportunity for private investors to take up the slack. There are a variety of options available to universities to address the issue, McMurray advises. Option one is renting a building, a common practise across the world which saves the university from high capital costs. Secondly, they can put out a tender for someone to build and operate it for them. Then in 12 or 25 years or whatever the model is, it reverts back to the university. They don’t have to fork out the capital or take any of the risk – it can simply go to the private sector that specialise in this. That is for building new capacity. The other side of the coin is upgrading existing capacity. “Universities are not in the game of housing, they’re in the game of education. That’s why it makes sense that everything should be outsourced to companies that specialise in this,” says McMurray. “Overseas, a number of Ivy League universities have sold their residences to the private sector that did upgrades, increased the capacity, modernised the buildings and it worked very well for them.” This takes care of the problem of capital expenditure. The universities receive less funding from the government so they don’t have the money to fix existing buildings. The problem isn’t just about building student accommodation but also managing these buildings profitably. “If you handed that whole problem over to the private sector, just imagine how much capital you’d free up to support students with grants and other things,” says McMurray. “But nobody is engaging the private sector – that’s the problem.” The government is talking about taking existing government building stock such as the Johannesburg CBD and converting it to student accommodation. But it doesn’t help if the building isn’t in the right place. “Even in the best case scenario, you’ll end up with a bunch of residences in places you shouldn’t have them. We don’t have the public transport to get them from there to the university. ‘’It’s not safe, it’s far from shops and "There is engagement with the private sector, however, it is very limited - there needs to be more collaboration." entertainment. A student’s life is not just about studying – you have to cover the full eco-system,” says McMurray. Private companies like Respublica build these buildings and ensure they are not reliant on government or even the universities. But often the problem is no matter how much the student wants to stay there – they are not allowed to because of grant or accreditation issues and often there is a lot of unnecessary red-tape. FUTURE OF STUDENT ACCOMMODATION There is a silver lining, but it does require all parties to pull together and work together. “Although there is a relationship between universities, government and the private sector – they could do so much more to collaborate,” says McMurray. This collaboration becomes vital when developing new infrastructure, especially with regards to aligning with universities’ macro-development plans. “If you have developers going out and doing disparate things, it becomes uncoordinated. Everything becomes more efficient if it’s done on a structural nodal basis Ё)Ʌєt́ͅ55Ʌ+qQɔ́ɽͥѡ՝ѥ́)͡хչɕ͕Ё͕ɥ́t)́ͅMqQٕͅѥЁٕɹЁ)䁱ٕ́͡ѕѽ݅ɑ́ɕͥѡ) ɥ̃Lݡ́ݕQɔ́ɽݥ)䁽ɕ͕ɍѼѡ͔ȁѥͥ)ѡхչ䰁ѥ٥䁅)͕ɥ今t+qɕѕՕ́ɔѼх͔ѡ)ɔȰɕՍ݅єٔѡЁ)ٕ䁅ɅѥٔѼ̳tMɕ̸Q)ɕѕمѥ́Սѥѡ́ѕɥ)ݥѥ٥͔ѡɥمє͕ѽȁѼѕɕ)ѡЁݥѡЁɥͭɽиq!ձ䰁ݔݥ͕)ɔٕЁѡ͔͕́ͥȁ)ѥ̰ݡɔѡɔ́ѡɕѕЁt)ɅєͥՅѥЁ͕̰ЁЁͥ()Q! QL+$啅́ѡՑЁձѥ)݅́ѕɕ̸ͥQ䰁ݥѠѡ)Ʌѥɕ͔ɹ́Ѽչٕͥ)ѡ́ɔ́ɽѼ́ѡ+%M٥ѡՑЁѥɥͥ́MѠ)ɥɕեɕٕ́ѵЁH+%Ёѽɥ䁑ͅمхѥѥ̰Ё́)չȁ́䁅́ͥѼՑ́Ѽ͡ɔ)ѥɽݥѠɥ䁽ȁչ݅ѕȸ()=I 1)M!=UM%9())9UId IUId((((0