By Poloko Mokhele
The National University of Lesotho students have come out guns blazing against the management’s decision to suspend accommodation for senior students at the university’s residence, due to renovations which are expected to take place.
The university’s management says it plans to renovate the residences from this month to November and may continue to offer most of the tuition activities online “therefore students may study from home.”
In a memo seen by theReporter this week, the university’s director of student affairs stated that “returning students, second year and above are informed that they will not be accommodated in the residences during the first semester of 2021/22. This is because apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, residences are going to be renovated from September to November 2021. As such students may seek accommodation elsewhere other than NUL residence.”
However, the decision has not been received well by the students, with some questioning why the renovations were not done during the school’s winter holidays when all students were at home.
One of the students who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity for fear of victimization felt that the “DSA (Director Student Affairs) is very inconsiderate taking into account the time they issued this notice. Where should we find the time, money to start afresh and buy furniture for new places off-camp? What has the management been doing since June because they could have renovated the residences when the school was closed? Accommodation outside is already saturated, they are throwing us to the wolves and landlords are going to raise rent prices, because we will take any accommodation available.”
Another student stated that “the timing is just wrong, we have less than two weeks remaining before we re-open for the first semester, we should have been given at least a one month notice so that we find proper accommodation.” According to the university’s academic calendar seen by this publication, classes are expected to resume on September 20.
Despite the management highlighting Covid-19 as a major reason to allow only first year students on campus, this publication has it on good authority that the residences will be renovated to accommodate some of the AUSC Region 5 Games teams.
Lesotho will host the games in December this year and some of the university’s facilities have been earmarked by government to host the guests.
Asked to shed light on the issue, NUL’s Registrar, Liteboho Maqalika-Lerotholi indicated that, the university can only host 1200 students in its residences.
“Even if we allowed them back again, we cannot accommodate all of them. We are forced by COVID-19 to accommodate a limited number. We took a decision to take only the first year students because they need to be orientated and be equipped with the learning system. It is also true that we will be hosting some of the AUSC Region 5 Games teams. We agreed to work with the government because this is a national event and NUL is a national institution, we really have to compromise.”
The schools’ academic calendar also notes November 22 as the arrival date of AUSC Region 5 Games teams, and December 3 as the beginning of the games and December 15 as the day for teams’ departures.