Posted on February 02, 2016
The newly built Tuks Bophelong residence, a comfortable and contemporary home from home to just under 300 medical students of the University of Pretoria (UP), was officially opened on Monday, 1 February 2016, by the Honourable Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande.
‘The provision of accessible, decent and safe student accommodation that is conducive to learning is of great importance to the quality of the higher education system and the success of students at South African Universities, especially those from rural and poor backgrounds,’ the Minister said in his speech. ‘Decent and affordable student accommodation allows students to focus their energies on their academic endeavours, improving their chances of success. Data provides conclusive proof that the throughput of students in residences is far better than those that reside off-campus and commute to universities,’ he added.
The Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, Prof Cheryl de la Rey, said the new residence forms part of the University’s response to a call made to universities by the Ministers of Health and Higher Education and Training to increase their medical student intake to meet the need for more doctors in the country.
‘In accordance with the University’s Strategic Plan UP2025, we have committed ourselves to being a public university that fully serves the national interest. Therefore, we deemed it our responsibility to respond to the call to increase the intake of medical students and to advance access for black South Africans to become medical doctors,’ Prof De la Rey said.
UP was granted funding to upgrade the medical school campus by the National Skills Development Fund. The Tuks Bophelong residence is the first major project to result directly from the infrastructure grant, and was completed at a cost of about R96 million.
The facility is situated on the hill above the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, on the University’s Prinshof Campus. The design includes five residential blocks with 301 single bedrooms, a communal facility and 200 m2 house parents’ residence. Four of the bedrooms were designed and equipped to meet the needs of students with physical disabilities.
The various buildings were situated in such a way as to create landscaped courtyards where students can gather and interact, thereby promoting social cohesion in both the internal and external spaces.
The communal facility provides, among other facilities, an IT lab, a study area, a food kiosk and a recreation hall.
The buildings have been designed to be as energy-efficient as possible, from orientation and internal layout, to technical aspects such as solar water heating and water-saving sanitary fittings. Natural lighting and ventilation have also been incorporated into the design.
In 2016, the residence is home to 292 male and female students. The remaining rooms are in the process of being filled.
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