Searching for student accommodation made easier through an online platform.

Students in Johannesburg participated at the launch of a new online accommodation service to voice their concerns about the lack of accommodation. The launch of Fundi’s Accommodation Platform was held at the Johannesburg Rand Club on Thursday, February 20.

The launch included a number of panel discussions, one of which was a student panel with representatives from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the South African Union of Students (SAUS). 

Kamogelo Maseko,  a UJ student who lives at J-One a student accommodation in Braamfontein said, “J-One has a pest problem, there are cockroaches and adapting to that setting is tough. And when you have visitors and when they see the cockroaches is upsetting.”

Three University of Johannesburg (UJ) students and two members of the South African Union of Students (SAUS) members made up the panel which represented students.

Tshego Ratale, second-year strategic communication student from UJ, who stays at a Richmond student accommodation, said that students should receive access to  free WiFi instead of having to pay for it.

Qaqamba Buka, a second-year UJ student told Wits Vuvuzela “it’s important for us to be involved in a panel discussion and to be here, because now they know the problems we are facing.

“When they build student accommodations they build it for us, but we are the ones currently experiencing the problems. We know what the issues are. Us being here helps them get into our minds, getting them to know what we are feeling and what our experiences are,” added the BCom student.

“One thing I am hoping from the Fundi online student accommodation platform is that they will take what we said and implement it,” said Ratale.

In the student’s panel closing remarks SAUS president, Misheck Mugabe, said that students in the Eastern Cape and other rural provinces have more of a challenge with regards to student accommodation.

“Private property owners are more likely to cater to students in urban areas rather than rural areas,” Mugabe added.

Mxolisi Ngcamphalala, a SAUS National Executive Council (NEC) member, emphasised the importance of vetting accommodation owners. “The state needs to vet people who intend to accommodate students. We do not want to find ourselves, as we’ve seen before where students are now being engaged in activities that do not help their studies because they have been exposed to a landlord that has not been vetted.

The vice-chancellors (VCs) of UJ, Wits University, Walter-Sisulu University also participated in one of the panel discussions which were all facilitated by SABC anchor Nzigina Qunta. 

Wits VC, Prof Adam Habib said he would like to move the debate of the student accommodation crisis to include solutions to the problem as well.

“At Wits we effectively have 6,500 beds. At the moment we think the demand for beds is about 12 000 to 16 000. We actually have enough service providers in Braamfontein, many of whom are accredited to supply those beds,” Habib said.

“The problem at Wits is not the supply of accommodation, but the money. Do the people who need the accommodation have the money? And I think that is an important question to raise,” he said.

Fundi CEO, Tshepo Ditshego said “bringing students, accommodation providers and institutions together to the launch was important so that we could talk about the challenges and come up with solutions.” “With the Fundi Accommodation Platform, we were trying to create an ‘Airbnb’ version for students and accommodation providers”, said Ditshego.

The Fundi Accommodation Platform is designed to be a one single solution for students to view, assess, select and choose suitable and accredited student accommodation available.

The platform, which is available through an app and the Fundi website is equipped with real time viewing of apartments and instant accesses to prices and quotes.

FEATURED IMAGE: University students and student leaders discuss their frustrations about the ongoing accommodation crisis. Photo: Tumelo Modiba.