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The old Summerstrand Hotel, a Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) landmark, is being converted into a 500-bed residence for students at Nelson Mandela University (NMU). The residence, due to open this month, aims to provide safe and affordable accommodation close to campus – particularly for those on financial aid. “NMU has 29,000 students, but only 3,299 beds in university owned residences,” says John Schooling, director of student accommodation group STAG African. “This means they can only accommodate 12% of students on campus. To meet the demand for housing, the university has adopted a private student accommodation policy.”

Unfortunately, most existing accredited private accommodation is located far away from the main campus, which increases transport costs and travel time. However, The Summerstrand Student Village is a short 600m walk from NMU’s main campus along a safe and secure route. The new village gives students an opportunity to stay in accommodation close to the NMU campus at an affordable rate.

Amenities include self-catering cooking facilities, catered meals, laundry facilities, Wi-Fi, a swimming pool, and a student centre for social events. As the building used to be a hotel, rooms are up to 27m2 and include an en-suite bathroom. “Students from all over the country come to study at NMU, and while they may be at different income levels, their housing needs are the same. Safety, internet connectivity, access to resources and social support, are critical to a student’s ability to succeed,” says Schooling.

“By allowing students to focus on their work instead of spending their energy worrying about money, affordable student housing contributes to academic success.” STAG has recently completed a 2,047-bed student village at the University of Fort Hare. This is the largest student accommodation development ever undertaken by a South African university. It will help ease the housing crisis at the university and create a student community conducive to academic success. Applications for accommodation at the Summerstrand Student Village for the 2021 academic year, are currently open.

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