Accommodation woes

Opposition MPs Professor Biman Prasad (left) and Prem Singh after the Parliament sitting yesterday. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Opposition MPs Professor Biman Prasad (left) and Prem Singh after the Parliament sitting yesterday. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

ATTORNEY-GENERAL and Minister for Education Aiyaz-Sayed Khaiyum admitted in Parliament yesterday that there were accommodation challenges faced by students at the Fiji National University Lautoka campus.

However, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Government had increased allowance for students to meet their accommodation costs and other costs they may face.

“Yes, there has been obviously an accommodation challenge in Lautoka,” he said.

“The reality is that there is pressure of accommodation, the university is being given funding, the actual students have increased allowance to meet this accommodation cost and other cost they may face.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum made this statement while responding to the end-of-week statement by Opposition MP Aseri Radrodro who claimed that tertiary students faced challenges in finding decent and affordable accommodation while studying away from home.

“There was limited space available to cater for campus boarding, thus forcing students to look for alternative accommodation outside of the college facilities,” Mr Radrodro said.

“We thus have a problem, when our tertiary students however, become limited with their ability to be the best they can be, because the environment of learning especially their accommodation or place of rest, eating and training or relaxation, is compromised or badly limited.

“Students were forced to find houses around Lautoka to rent and study in the university, and I wonder whether the menu in the campus is even known to Government, let alone approved.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said students used to get their accommodation allowance and meal allowance paid directly to the FNU from TSLB which has now changed.

“The students wanted to have the liberty to be able to choose what they want to eat, who chooses to eat at the university campus they can at the campus and those choose not to, they can actually eat out. As highlighted in the 2017/2018 National Budget speech we did say that annual allowance has increased for semester students from $4334 to $6600.

“Trimester based students will receive an allowance of $7125 instead of $5736. We have also provided TELS students an allowance of $1000 for other incidentals too,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

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