Ricochet News

R92 million project to build 360 beds at Walter Sisulu University begins

R92 million project to build 360 beds at Walter Sisulu University begins

Work on a R92 million construction project aimed at furnishing Walter Sisulu University with 360 beds commenced at the end of May at the institution’s Buffalo City Campus (BCC).

WSU’s Potsdam Site outside East London will house the brand new facility, aimed at increasing the bed count at the University’s campus – which currently stands at 250 on-campus beds.  (Other off-campus accommodation is provided for students in hired premises in the city)

“The facilities will foster a new sense of community amongst students and reduce the burden of transporting students to and from BCM,” says WSU Acting Spokesperson Thando Cezula.

The first brick is set to be laid 6 months after the last was placed on the R40 million Mthatha decant residence which will house 240 students at the Nelson Mandela Drive Site at the Mthatha Campus.

The Mthatha project, completed in January, is funded, together with the Buffalo City Campus Potsdam Site project, through the Infrastructure and Efficiency Funding of the Department of Higher Education and Training. WSU submitted a successful bid for this funding in the funding cycle.

September last year proved a watershed moment for WSU as the institution unveiled the first residence to be built at the University since the merger in 2005 and also the first student residence to be built at the Mthatha Campus since 1976.  

Cezula says the University is working extremely hard to fulfil one of its key deliverables highlighted in the institution’s on-going Turnaround Strategy – to increase student accommodation.

“Although WSU does meet the national benchmark of providing 30% student accommodation, clearly we would like to increase this and accommodate more students particularly as many of our students come from rural areas. Our ultimate goal would be to accommodate 50% of our students on campus,” he says.

Work on the Potsdam Site project is scheduled to take 13 months and is expected to be completed in mid-2016.

Cezula said the milestone accomplished with these new residences was a significant symbol of WSU’s on-going transformation.


The New Student Village will provide an additional 360 beds on WSU Potsdam Site, Buffalo City. The facilities will foster a new sense of community amongst students and reduce the burden of transporting students to and from BCM.

The Buildings are arranged around greened internal courtyards and are interconnected with covered walkways providing the scale and feel of a village. The student accommodation is grouped into two separate blocks. Each block comprising a North and South wing has three floor levels. The wings are linked with covered walkways and shared staircases with the apartment entrances leading onto a common central atrium. The student apartments, or pods as they have come to be known, provide accommodation for 8 people. The pods offers two single bedrooms for senior students, and three double bedrooms. An open plan living, kitchen and dining space is the social hub of the apartment and it is well provided with two sets of toilets and shower rooms respectively.

The social heart of the village comprises a pair of TV rooms and a pair of study rooms that flank an open but covered atrium. This common building is strategically placed between the student blocks and leads out onto the adjacent green spaces with braai facilities and covered outdoor seating spaces.

The more functional utility building closes the east edge of the village and offers a laundry, washing room, staff facilities and store rooms. The Wardens unit is attached to the utility block and it has a separate entrance and a private garden area and yet the warden office is very accessible from inside the village for student consultation and oversight.

The gatehouse is the formal entry to the complex and provides a manned security office and access controlled gates. The entire perimeter of the site will be enclosed with a security fence. Hard surface parking will be provided outside the fence in a new parking area on the East side for 17 vehicles. 

The site was formally handed over to the contractor on 27 May 2015 and is scheduled for completion in 13 months.