Wits University is to receive R30 million from the City of Johannesburg for the upgrade of facilities in Braamfontein.
Wits vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Adam Habib has confirmed that an agreement has been reached with city officials which will allow the university to extend the campus beyond its current borders in Braamfontein.
As part of the agreement Wits will take responsibility for part of Braamfontein’s lighting, security and paving, as well as the upgrade of a number of buildings in the area over the next three to five years.
“We are looking to colonise the area,” Habib said. He has met with the mayor of Johannesburg, Parks Tau and City manager, Trevor Fowler, who have agreed to provide financial support to Wits for the project.
In addition, Wits is in negotiations to “borrow” bandwidth from the city to increase Internet access and availability across the campus.
As part of the upgrade, international technology company IBM will locate its Braamfontein research lab on the Wits campus. This is in order to support the university’s continued study in the origins of the universe and of human species.
In 2009, the university together with public and private funders invested R1.5 billion into upgrading campus infrastructure, including the Wits Art Museum, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital and education campus facilities.
According to Shirona Patel of Wits communications, the “investment had gone into new buildings and in upgrading existing infrastructure, which comprises more than 260 buildings.”
The facilities department is currently conducting a survey, looking at the need for student and staff accommodation and in an upcoming council meeting, will strategise ways to manage the Braamfontein build up so that it does not detract from “normal internal infrastructural duties,” Habib said.