One of the challenges facing Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in South Africa is the provision of adequate accommodation of reasonable quality in terms of health and creating a learning environment that can promote academic success. The purpose of this study was to explore students' experiences in residences at a South African university. The study adopted a qualitative approach in which an exploratory survey design was utilised. Both stratified and simple random sampling techniques were used to select participants from 5 student residences. Sixty (60) students participated in 5 focus group interviews and each group consisted of 12 participants. A self–constructed interview guide was used to collect data from the participants. Data were analysed through content analysis. The study found that the residential environment in the residences was not conducive for studying and that facilities in the rooms were grossly inadequate and pose a health risk for the inhabitants. The study concluded that there is a general lack of sufficient and adequate on–campus housing at the university. The study makes recommendations to improve conditions in residences.