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Schumann medal recipient off to Oxford
Author: Pia Nänny
Published: 04/09/2017

​The recipient of the 2017 CGW Schumann medal for the best postgraduate student in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences will leave for England later in September to further his studies at Oxford University.

Lewis McLean, who received both his BComHons (Economics) and MCom (Economics) degrees cum laude, was awarded this medal on Friday 1 September. The medal is named after the Faculty's first dean and has been awarded annually since 1986.

Over the years, Lewis had received numerous awards and accolades, among them the Cloete medal for the best postgraduate (honours & master's) student in Economics in 2014 as well as 2016.

According to Prof Andrie Schoombee, chairperson of the Department of Economics, Lewis' high-level econometric skills resulted in him being selected to represent Stellenbosch University (SU) at the highly prestigious World Championship of Econometrics presented by the University of Amsterdam three years in a row.

The Economics Society of South Africa also awarded him its Founder's Medal for the best Honours research assignment submitted by an economics student as part of the student's degree programme in 2014. In 2016 the Society conferred a similar medal on him for the best Masters research assignment countrywide by an economics student - probably the first time ever that one student has been granted both awards.

Lewis, who hopes to follow a career in academia, have gained entrance to both Oxford University (fully funded) and Cambridge University.

“I was very pleased to be accepted by both of these prestigious institutions. I've decided to attend Oxford's two-year MPhil in Economics, with the intent of continuing on to complete a DPhil in Economics at Oxford thereafter. Funding was the deciding factor for me - I've been awarded a Clarendon Fund Scholarship which, partnered with a Mary Somerville Graduate Scholarship granted by Somerville College, covers my tuition, college fee and living expenses for the duration of the two-year programme."

Ironically, Lewis had no intention of pursuing a career as an economist when he started his studies at SU in 2011.

“I'd actually applied to study music, but by the time I was accepted I'd grown disillusioned with the insularity that had manifested in me as a result of my singular focus on music. That's why I decided to enrol for a BA degree with the subjects Philosophy, Political Science and Economics.

“Initially I was primarily interested in Philosophy and History, but over the course of my undergraduate degree Economics emerged as the subject that continually challenged me in unique and exciting ways, and thus seemed to offer the greatest potential for continued personal development."

He successfully moved from an undergraduate programme in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences to postgraduate studies in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.

Lewis does not regret following this route: “It is my view that Economics is fundamentally concerned with the study of social phenomena, and that it should do this by any appropriate means available. My background in the social sciences helps me keep this in mind when I approach economic problems."

According to him, two things have been central to his achievements: an insatiable love for learning, and the support he received from among others family, friends and the university.

“I could not have asked for a more supportive learning environment than that provided by the Department of Economics. I would not have obtained my MCom had it not been for opportunities made available to me by members of the Department, who allowed me to lecture our undergraduate students, to tutor our postgraduate students and to get involved in a wide range of research projects, all of which collectively funded my last few years at SU."

  • Main photo:  Prof Andrie Schoombee, chairperson of the Department of Economics,  and Prof Johan Malan, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, congratulate Lewis McLean, recipient of the CGW Schumann Medal for the best postgraduate student in the Faculty.
  • 2nd Photo: Prof Stan du Plessis, economics professor and SU's COO designate, congratulates Lewis.