UR Huye: Struggles of Accommodation at the Campus; A Recurring Challenge for First-Year Students

 

The University of Rwanda’s Huye Campus has long grappled with a persistent issue: the scarcity of adequate hostels for its students, especially at the start of each academic year. Seeking to unearth the root cause behind this perennial problem, we engaged with students who have encountered challenges securing accommodation and delved into the reasons for their unmet housing needs.

Danny Mugisha, a third-level student at the School of Business, found himself without allocated accommodation despite applying and paying 40,000 FRW for a hostel before the commencement of the 2023 academic year. Mugisha shared his dismay, recounting the chaotic experience of waiting from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM in vain at the distribution center, only to discover that the hostels had run out. With limited finances, he had to rely on a friend’s generosity, sharing a room instead of having his own space within the campus.

Mugisha’s story is not unique. Another group of students, opting to remain anonymous, revealed resorting to tactics involving manipulating cards obtained through a friend within the student committee to secure their accommodation. Without this inside assistance, they might have faced a similar fate of being left without a place to stay.

Ninsima Colleb, a recent graduate from the School of Journalism and Communication, noted that the accommodation problem persisted during their tenure from 2018 to 2022. Students would often book multiple hostels and then sublet them at inflated prices to those who had missed out on hostel allocation or to outsiders seeking residence within the campus. Colleb highlighted the issue of prejudicial treatment and the divide among students based on class or age, which hindered equitable hostel distribution.

Addressing the issue, Bugingo Geoffrey, the current Guild President of the students, acknowledged the accommodation challenge stemmed from an imbalance between the rising number of freshmen and the limited hostel availability. He stressed the necessity of better communication between the Guild Presidential Council and campus management, advocating for proactive measures in hostel allocation even before students arrive on campus. Bugingo also urged students to refrain from resorting to manipulative methods to secure accommodation.

In response to these concerns, Theresie Nyirahabimana, the Director of Student Welfare at Huye Campus, emphasized the urgent need for additional hostel constructions to cater to the influx of students, particularly due to the relocation of students from Nyagatare campus CBE to Huye. Nyirahabimana disclosed efforts to convert existing spaces like “imidugudu” into habitable areas for students who had been unable to secure accommodation.

Director of Students Welfare at Huye Campus delivering a speech

However, Nyirahabimana cautioned against illegal means of acquiring accommodation, affirming that students should follow approved procedures. Dr. Kayihura Muganga Didas, the General Director of the University of Rwanda, expressed plans to not exceed 20% of the student population at Huye Campus, prioritizing accommodation for first-year students while also outlining intentions to expand accommodation facilities.

With over 8000 students from various faculties, the University of Rwanda’s Huye Campus faces a pressing need to address the accommodation crisis. Plans are underway to expand hostel buildings to ensure a conducive environment for effective studying.
By Delphine NTAGARA