“If you want to grow, embrace diversity. It is an indispensable component of excellence."
With these words Stellenbosch University's Vice-Rector: Learning & Teaching, Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel, welcomed SU's more than 5 000 newcomer students, accompanied by their parents, during the official welcoming event held at Danie Craven Stadium on Thursday, 23 January 2020.
“We are committed to inclusivity and equality. We all come from different parts of the country and from different backgrounds. That's what makes university so appealing. Here you will be exposed to a variety of people and ideas … It is part of your development to get to know other people and to treat everyone with respect," Schoonwinkel said.
He congratulated the newcomers for getting this far in their journey and emphasised how special the newcomers were to the university, especially since SU received thousands of admission applications every year.
“We received 45 000 applications for admission this year, but only have space for about 5 500 newcomer first-year students – so if you made it here, you are really a top student. Parents can take comfort from the fact that this University works hard to create an environment conducive to student success. Maties has the highest graduation throughput of all universities in South Africa. Stellenbosch is a top university for top students," said Schoonwinkel.
He also emphasised the importance of students being responsible young adults, to seek help when they might experience challenges during their journey at SU and not to miss the opportunity to build lifelong connections.
“One comes to university not just for a degree, but for an education. And for that, you need exposure to a range of activities, beyond the classroom as well. Join one of our many student societies. Use this time to build strong networks for life."
The important event on the University's annual calendar consisted of fun, music, a formal welcoming, a human display of the number 2020 at the Danie Craven Stadium and a street march by students and parents to the iconic Victoria Street on campus.
Dr Choice Makhetha, Senior Director: Student Affairs at SU officially welcomed newcomers during the formal event and said she is proud that all the newcomers “chose Maties as their new home".
SU Prim Committee Chair Ms Ingrid Heydenrych also welcomed and encouraged newcomers. She said that students should take this step into higher education as an opportunity to make choices that will ultimately “contribute to a future that we all wish to see for this country, for Africa, and for the world at large".
“Being at University is an exceptional privilege in this country. You will immerse yourself in a global academic tradition that has been a main source of human development across centuries. You will see, learn and experience things that will challenge you, grow you and turn you into the exceptional person you are destined to become," said Heydenrych.
After the formal welcoming, the new Maties walked from the stadium to Victoria Street as part of a Dream Launch that symbolised the start of their journey at SU to realise their dreams. The students each received a card on which they could write their dreams for themselves.
The cards were placed at various points on route to Victoria Street, where, for the next few days, these will be on display on trees wrapped in various colours, so anyone that goes down Victoria Street will pass by the dreams of all the newcomers.
Newcomer students can find more information on the University's website, www.sun.ac.za, which contains all the necessary information on the full week's welcoming programme, information on the registration schedule, transport, personal safety, the library and free writing advice.
Click here to read the full speech of Ingrid Heydenrych.
Click here to read the full speech of Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel.