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The Effect of Student Housing Conditions on Academic Performance

The Effect of Student Housing Conditions on Academic Performance

Introduction
There is a general notion that students who live in decent housing units within or around their university have a better chance of exceling academically. So much so that a lot of tertiary institutions in and outside Nigeria make it compulsory for first year and final year students to live on campus.

Academic performance here is defined as the level to which a student has achieved their educational goals. A lot of educators believe that there should be close proximity between a student’s living and learning environment in order to produce all-rounders that are socially integrated and mentally sound. However, the lack of decent housing for students within and outside campus means that a lot of these students are left to their devices and have to settle for whatever is available. The population of students admitted into Nigerian universities has seen a significant increase over the years. A case in point is UNILAG with a student population of 58,000 but has only 8000 bed spaces available. So, you passed the first major hurdle of gaining admission into one of the top tertiary institutions in Nigeria, but you now have to worry about where you will reside. This undue pressure is not a great start to the semester and students may end up struggling to keep up with their school work whilst looking for adequate accommodation. The appropriate authorities have done very little to curb this issue and students end up paying a high price for this. It is widely believed that availability of decent housing units significantly reduces the risks of students dropping out and are more capable of achieving high level of academic performance. Potential students in Unilag writing a post-UTME exam.
Potential students in Unilag writing a post-UTME exam. Photo Credit: Pulse.ng

Despite this common perception, it is difficult to categorically attribute a student’s bad academic performance to his housing situation due to various reasons such as his socio-economic status — it could however, to a large extent contribute to it.

What is Bad Housing?
Housing is a basic need and fundamental human right of every individual. In Nigeria, the struggle to get decent housing at a reasonable cost is a constant issue faced by the citizens and the same can be said for students.

Some of the factors that influence the choice of a student’s accommodation are adequate security, availability of electricity and clean water, toilet facilities and a peaceful environment, proximity to campus and the fees. Whilst some students prefer off campus accommodation due to privacy and better facilities albeit at a costly price, others prefer a cheaper, housing on campus that is close to their lecture halls.
Bad housing covers a wide range of issues including:
  • Overcrowding
  • Poor Physical Condition
  • Inadequate security
  • Poor Facilities
An example of bad housing condition for students
An example of bad housing condition for students… Photo Credit: Nairaland.

Whilst this is a simple definition, it does not give the full picture. The World Health Organisation (1989) provided recommendations that housing should be situated in a setting which has adequate commercial, social, religious, educational, welfare and health facilities. Residents who are not able to fully utilise these resources will experience a great deal of stress. The same could be said for a student who lives in poor housing, having to share facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens, will have little privacy and the inability to function properly in such an environment. Poor housing, as an immediate environmental stressor, therefore plays a central role in the psychological well-being of residents (Page, 2002). Below are the results of surveys carried out in 3 top tertiary institutions in Nigeria on the condition of student housing facilities.

- A survey carried out on the state of the basic infrastructure (water supply, refuse disposal and building condition) in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-ife shows that the university’s student hostels has more than average number of the total facilities in deteriorating conditions. (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Lagos)

- An assessment on the condition of student hostels in UNILAG shows that more than average number of the total facilities are in bad condition — 27% as good facilities, 52.5% as poor facilities and 20.5% as fairly good facilities. (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, UNILAG)

- An assessment on housing facilities in The Polytechnic, Ibadan showed that 66.7% of the facilities provided were inadequate whilst 33.3% were adequate. (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Bells University)

The Effects
Three components that are detrimental to a student’s health are overcrowding, dampness/moulds and poor sanitation. Maslow (1943) stated that learning is secondary to bodily needs and any attempt towards learning requires psychological and physical satisfaction.

Not having adequate security is also a major issue that affects a student’s academic performance because they end up living in constant fear of danger/theft of properties and are not fully able to concentrate in their lectures or stay up at night to study.

Living in noisy and overcrowded residences with minimal supervision put students at risk at falling ill or not being able to have private study time. They end up spending more time trying to get over one illness or the other rather than on spending time on their studies and as a result end up struggling to keep up with the school’s curriculum.

Research has shown that poor health seems to be the underlying factor for students’ low performance and/or even early school dropout. This is as a result of poor facilities — unsafe water, unsanitary bathrooms/toilets and poorly ventilated rooms. Creating a hygienic and sanitary living environment has a great influence on the growth and development of the student both mentally and physically. On the other hand, some may argue that a students’ academic performance is solely dependent on his resolve and determination to succeed regardless of his surroundings. For a student who is used to living in a not so great environment with no access to these excellent facilities, he may know no better and will likely be able to thrive in whatever environment he is put in. Other factors that are not health related now come into play such as transportation — having to travel a long distance to get to school may mean missing some important lectures, lack of funds for school fees and not having the right backing from family, could be reasons why a student won’t perform well academically.

In conclusion, the lack of or deplorable conditions of facilities provided in student hostels across Nigeria is at an all-time high and has not received adequate attention from university administrators. Living in such conditions is detrimental to the health of the students and will hinder them from attaining their full potential academically.

Student Accommod8; Who We Are!

This post has been a long time coming and we’ve finally gotten around to doing it… So, what was the big idea behind Student Accommod8? Simply put, Student Accommod8 was established to tackle the lack of student housing facilities across Nigerian tertiary institutions. We know and understand the struggle that you students face when it comes to finding suitable and affordable housing within and even outside your universities. It could be a very frustrating experience and could take a toll on your studies. Those that are fortunate to secure bed spaces often experience issues of overcrowding, no water or electricity supply, run down infrastructures that look like they are about to collapse, no security and many off putting conditions.

This is where WE come in…Student Accommod8, the pioneer in this field, has a mission to develop and operate Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) that offers an affordable environment focused on providing a quality home and community experience for ALL STUDENTS to meet their academic potential. This, we do by building student hostels strategically placed close to universities or within the university’s campus. These hostels come fully equipped with all the necessary facilities every student needs to feel at home away from home. No one said it was going to be easy and we have had our fair share of hiccups along the way but our oga at the top will stop at nothing to see this through and we are well on our way to achieving this!

As a young team of professionals, we are very big on providing excellent customer service as this goes a long way in assuring you that we care. This and providing Value Added Services in all our developments is what sets us aside from all the other hostels.

Below is a summary of our fully operational hostels:
Pine House, 372 Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba, Lagos
Pine House, our pilot project was launched in January 2016. It is a 10 minutes walking distance from the University of Lagos and services other universities in the area. Pine House has constant water supply, equipped kitchenette with cookers and gas supply, communal, security and more.

Sycamore House, OOU, Ogun State
Sycamore House, situated within OOU Permanent Site will be launching soon. This development, when completed will boast of Value Added Services (VAS) such as a mini mart, cafeteria, laundry room, saloon and many more.

Other projects already underway are:
  • Cedar House, Pan-African University, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos.
  • We are a group of dedicated individuals guided by a vision to become the leading Purpose-Built Student Accommodation developer and operator in Africa. We have all been students at some point and we can all relate to your daily struggles. Student Accommod8 is here to take one less thing off your plate; which is, providing you with proper hostel accommodation with excellent facilities and services. So, stay glued to our page to find out more information about upcoming projects! We just may turn up at your university.

    Be Yourself!

    I am sure you are thinking that ehen these ones have come again with their motivational speeches about how to be yourself because you have heard it a thousand times *rolls eyes* but it is very true! Let me just put it out there that having friends is all about quality and not quantity. Being yourself will mean people you meet will like you for who you are so you will most likely make friends that fully understand and accept you. For example, no need to add foneh to your accent because you won’t be able to keep it up for too long o and then you end up leaving your housemates confused.

    Go Knocking.

    It’s simple! Just take a walk around your hostels and knock on doors of the other residents. However, please ensure that you don’t wait till it’s midnight or an unsuitable time so you don’t annoy anyone and think of a conversation starter before they answer the door. It may be a little awkward at first but it can also be the beginning of a long lasting friendship. If you don’t have the confidence to knock on doors, try striking up conversations with residents when you see them outside of their rooms. “Hi, I really love your hair, please where did you get it done? I have been looking for a hairdresser since I moved in” and the rest they say is history.

    Hang Out In Your Common Room.

    If your accommodation has a common room, like SA8 does in all its hostels, hanging out there is a great way to relax and unwind and there’s more chance of fellow residents being around. You can break the ice by making comments on the football match being shown on TV or challenge them to card games or Ludo.

    Sign Up For Events And Activities.

    Universities always have various events and activities all year round. Always keep an eye out for information on these activities by looking out for posters or on social media. There may be a Facebook group set up by your accommodation that advertises all events and activities taking place. If you love playing sports, sign up and attend the next practice game. It is most likely you will meet your BFF at social events because you have the same things in common. This will give you something to talk about and keep the conversation going.