Socio-economic factors and inadequate academic preparation for university studies are the two greatest challenges for matriculants who wish to study further.
SU awards recruitment bursaries, merit bursaries and sport bursaries to talented and indigent students. In 2013, R40,2 million was appropriated for recruitment bursaries, while an additional R21,8 million was made available for indigent students.
Apart from awarding bursaries, the Centre for Prospective Students has partnered with Thuthuka, a transformation initiative of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, to present the SU Thuthuka programme for black students in an effort to help promote diversity.
Since 2001, Stellenbosch University's Science and Mathematics bridging programme (SciMathUS) has been offering students from educationally disadvantaged communities the opportunity to gain access to higher education. This year-long programme provides students with a choice between Mathematics and Physical Sciences or Mathematics and Accounting, and equips them with the skills to achieve success in their university studies. Even though their initial Grade 12 marks were too low to be admitted to university, hard work and dedication have seen many SchiMathUS students qualify as medical doctors, engineers and teachers. In 2013, SchiMathUS was also extended to Worcester campus, with an initial intake of 50 school-leavers.
In addition, students from educationally disadvantaged schools are recruited through a special initiative called Rachel's Angels, led by Prof Rachel Jafta of SU's Department of Economics in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. The initiative is offered in conjunction with Media24.
Through various programmes, SU mentors help equip Grade 11 and 12 learners for tertiary training. This group annually delivers a considerable number of Afrikaans-speaking black enrolments.
Careers@Maties is an initiative offering free career assessment and guidance to academic top achievers in Grade 11. Teachers and principals of participating schools visit the University and enter into dialogue on ways in which various school communities' specific needs may be further met.
The Visit@Maties project entails a three-day, fully paid campus visit for a group of Grade 12 learners from across the country, selected on the basis of academic merit. All of these learners are also SU recruitment bursary holders.
Hope@Maties is a strategic institutional project driven jointly by SU's Centre for Education Leadership and Management (CELEMUS) in the Faculty of Education, the Centre for Prospective Students and the Community Interaction Division. A free tutor and career guidance programme provides support to Grade 12 learners through Saturday and holiday schools. Qualified and experienced educators are contracted to present classes in key subjects such as Mathematics, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Accounting. Learners are also exposed to the various disciplines at SU, as well as corresponding career choices.
The annual Stellenbosch University-JIP Matriculant of the Year competition acknowledges Grade 12 learners who perform well at school, are involved in their communities, and display leadership qualities. These learners receive bursaries to study at SU.
The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences presents an annual recruitment and outreach programme called Imbewu-GESOG, aimed at students from historically disadvantaged communities. This constitutes an integral part of the Faculty's student recruitment for the fields of medicine and related health sciences. In terms of recruitment, the programme has a 50% success rate.