Student news wrap 18/04/19

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Stories for and about students from home and around the world.

TUT# Feesmustfall activist cleared of charges

A former Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) SRC leader has expressed relief after being cleared of criminal charges from his participation in the #FeesMustFall protests.

Sthembiso Mbatha was facing charges of public violence, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and defeating the ends of justice. He described the process as emotionally daunting, adding that having a criminal record made it impossible to find work. “It affected me so much. I would apply for over 20 jobs a day and not even get called to a single interview. I kept on wondering why – because I had the qualification, leadership skills and a bit of experience – only to be told that I cannot be hired because I have a criminal record,” Mbatha said. He also stated that it not only affected him, but his siblings and mom as well. While Mbatha has expressed relief after receiving a clearance certificate, he said there was still silence surrounding other students who were charged and that the government should be pressured to pardon students facing charges from the protests. – Read more on Sowetan Live

Student housing workshop

The City of Johannesburg has revealed the results of a workshop to assist in the provision of affordable, quality student accommodation. Various institutions of higher learning and their student representatives also partook in the workshop held last Thursday (April 11)

“While student accommodation is not the competency of the city, we recognise that there is a growing demand for safe and affordable options for students. To this end, the city is finalising a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), the University of South Africa (Unisa) and various TVET [Technical and Vocational Education and Training] colleges,” stated MMC of Development Planning, Reuben Masango. The Johannesburg Social Housing Company (Joshco) is aiming to complete the first building to be used for student accommodation by June. It will provide 120 beds for students. It also has three more projects in the pipeline which will add 1,257 beds. The workshop provided a platform for representatives from the learning institutions and students to highlight their requirements and give input into the city’s existing programmes. – Read more on IOL News

German students ‘build their own’ to beat pricey dorm fees

Enterprising students in the German city of Heidelberg are tackling the high cost of accommodation by… building their own. Collegium Academicum will be built on the grounds of a former US military hospital, which was bought from the city by 25 students. They plan to provide space for 226 dorms in 46 shared apartments, built entirely out of wood.

Construction is set to begin within the next few weeks, with the first tenants hoping to move in by January of 2021. At the moment students who share apartments are paying an average of around 437 Euros (R6,924) per month. Collegium Academicum plan to average 300 Euros (R4,753.50) per month, with the hope of dropping even lower in the future. The whole project has a price tag of 16million Euros (R253million), with most of the money coming from a bank loan, grants from the state and Germany’s credit institute for redevelopment. The students did however have to cover 2 million euros in equity capital to start the process and spent 6 years to raise that amount from donations and fundraising efforts. – Read the full story on the BBC news site