Division for Research Development
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

​Research Information

​​​​Stellenbosch University (SU) has a vision to be established as a leading research-intensive university on the African continent by pursuing excellence and remaining at the forefront of its chosen focus areas, by gaining national and international standing on the basis of its research outputs, by being relevant to the needs of the community, and by being enterprising, innovative and self-renewing. SU is one of the top research-focused universities in South Africa. 

Research outputs

According to the Department of Higher Education and Training's official report regarding the 2020-publication year outputs, SU received the highest number of book publications (445 subsidy units), the second highest number of conference proceedings (74, 6 subsidy units) and the third highest per-capita research output (1,82). SU was placed third in terms of overall institutional units received for this output year. This includes journal articles, books, chapters in books and conference proceedings. Stellenbosch University (SU) is also one of the most successful institutions nationally in terms of number of creative outputs submitted and subsidy awarded. According to the outcome of the 2019 submission to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), SU came first nationally with a total of 87 submissions and 53.6 units received, whilst for the 2020 submissions we again submitted the highest number of submissions (a total of 39), with 34.45 units awarded.

​Distinguished researchers

The University has 44 Research Chairs of which 23 are National Research Foundation (NRF) SARChI chairs (South African Research Chairs Initiative), funded by the Department of Science and Technology. SU has one of the highest number of NRF-rated scientists in the country – 493 in 2022.

More than 350 postdoctoral research fellows were hosted at SU in 2022. 

Networks and partnerships

SU has well-established, far-reaching, multi-layered networks of international partners, with more than 320 bilateral institutional arrangements in 64 countries across six continents. SU also has 25 formal bilateral agreements with other African universities.

Innovation and research contracts

27 Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications were submitted since 2019. This is more than any other entity in South Africa. We have launched 30 spin-out companies since 2014. More than 1400 research contracts were processed in 2021, an increase of 66% in four years. In 2022, 70% of our research contracts funding came from international funders.


Stellenbosch University maintains its standing as one of Africa's leading universities, according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject for 2022, which ranks the world's top universities in individual subject areas, covering 51 subjects.

Within the broad subject area category, SU improved its global standing in life sciences and medicine from position 269 in 2021 to position 265 in 2022. In addition, it was ranked higher than any other South African university in the subjects agriculture and forestry (attaining the 76th position globally), as well as in theology, and divinity and religious studies (rating within the world's top 100).

In April 2o22, SU was also ranked among the top 2 000 higher education institutions in the world by the Center for World University Rankings.​

SU as a university rooted in Africa needs to bear fruit for the people of our continent. The challenge for us is to be locally relevant, with regional impact, while also globally competitive. To achieve this goal, we need to continuously focus on the unique areas in which we have developed expertise over time and build collaborative networks as a knowledge partner in South Africa, the rest of the continent and further afield.