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SU student runs online learning platform to help bridge digital divide student runs online learning platform to help bridge digital divideCorporate Communication and Marketing/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking [Anel Lewis]<p>​​Student by day, and CEO, and startup founder on the side – Alexandra Lutz, who is currently in her first year of a data science degree at Stellenbosch University (SU), started the online learning platform <a href=""><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><strong>Milani Education</strong></span>​</a> while she was still in high school.</p><p>Now comprising three directors and a content manager, Milani Education has been named as one of seven startups from SU that will compete in the regional round of the EDHE (Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education) Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2024 competition taking place from 26 August. This competition highlights top student entrepreneurs from 26 public universities around the country.</p><p>Milani Education also recently partnered with the <a href=""><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><strong>Pebbles Project</strong></span></a> in Stellenbosch to help children from surrounding farming communities access educational resources. They will be able to access the Milani platform from devices at Pebbles' learning centres so that they can use the free online material for homework and revision. </p><p>The nonprofit organisation was launched in 2020 during the pandemic when Lutz was a Grade 9 learner at St. John's Diocesan School for Girls (D.S.G.) in Pietermaritzburg. She realised that while most of her peers were able to transition seamlessly to digital learning when schools were forced to close, there were many students who did not have the same access to online materials. With the permission of her headmaster, Lutz started sharing digital materials such as worksheets and videos with a few learners from the <a href=""><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><strong>Imbeleko</strong></span></a> Foundation, based in the rural KwaZulu-Natal community of KwaNyuswa.</p><p>Initially, Lutz worked with three learners – twins who were also in Grade 9 and a Grade 8. “These three learners were extremely eager to learn and had lost nearly a month of learning time when I first made contact." Lutz says her team sent out surveys every week to assess their online learning experience and the feedback was encouragingly positive. “This inspired us to continue with the initiative and work towards creating the platform." The company's name, which means 'to grow' in isiZulu, was suggested by the assistant chaplain at St John's D.S.G. Lutz thought it fitting as “education leads to exponential growth for a person both mentally as well as professionally". </p><p>After three years of “pilot project" work, Lutz secured seed funding to develop a prototype for an online platform and in 2023 Milani Education was launched with content sourced the year before while Lutz was still in Grade 11. In preparation, Lutz connected with schools such as Maritzburg College, St John's D.S.G. and SIMI Math, to secure online maths content and in the December holidays, a group of Grade 11 learners from St John's DSG formed the “Milani army" to have it edited and uploaded in time for the launch.  </p><p>Former classmate Sienna Porrill, who was part of the genesis of Milani Education when with Lutz in high school, is still involved in the project. She was part of the team of volunteers also from SU helping learners set up their profiles on the Milani platform this weekend. “Alex has always been an inspiration. While we were passing time (in high school) during lockdown doing puzzles, she was finding ways to start an online learning platform." </p><p>Milani Education is a free online learning platform that provides educational content from the current curriculum for learners in grades 8 to 12 across South Africa. The content is donated to the startup from reputable schools, at no cost. Currently, it serves about 800 learners who have access to more than 1 000 videos that they can use as a supplementary education tool. The easy-to-use Milani Education website offers Mathematics, English Home Language and English First Additional Language (FAL). Lutz adds that they are moderating content for Mathematical Literacy which should be launched soon.<br></p><p>​</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-embedcode ms-rte-embedil ms-rtestate-notify"><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><strong>Expansion plans</strong></p><p>Once the team expands, and secures further funding, Milani Education will offer more of the main school subjects, says Lutz. Milani plans to broaden its network of partner schools to make more teachers available online to students. The team also wants to translate the content to Afrikaans, isiZulu and isiXhosa, and to optimise the platform for data efficiency. </p><p>Lutz also has her sights set on starting a learning centre for the Embo community in KwaZulu-Natal. “We want to bridge the educational divide in our country by providing a safe place for students to learn regardless of the geographic setting or social status. Our vision is to democratise education so that all students have access to a world-class education right in the palm of their hands," notes Alexandra. <br></p><p><strong>Balancing act</strong><br></p><p>Lutz admits that staying motivated has been a challenge for herself and the team. “As a young entrepreneur in the non-profit space, I have been faced with many rejections and had lots of moments where it feels as if we are not making any progress." But Lutz describes herself as someone who is “stubbornly determined" and she refuses to accept 'no' for an answer.  </p><p>Balancing work with her studies means that Lutz must manage her time wisely. She says she “compartmentalises" her day to be available for both. She says the team, which now comprises a board of three directors and a content manager, is solution-driven and not afraid to navigate hurdles. </p><p>Milani Education's selection for the regionals of the EDHE competition will give the team an opportunity to network with fellow young entrepreneurs, says Lutz. “Being able to pitch our initiatives in the regional round allows us to share our vision and initiative with a diverse pool of people and hopefully make some great connections."</p><p>Lutz has no intention of easing up on her entrepreneurial pursuits once she graduates. She hopes to be able to hand over the daily running of Milani Education to a team so that she can pursue other ventures in the startup space. “But Milani will always be my baby."</p><p> </p><p><strong>Caption:</strong></p><p>Learners from Stellenbosch logging onto the Milani Education platform so that they can access free supplementary learning materials</p><p><strong>Caption:</strong></p><p>Learners from Khabazela High School are getting to grips with online learning at the City Hill Embo Milani learning centre in KwaZulu-Natal.</p><p><strong>Video:</strong></p><p>Milani CEO Alexandra Lutz shares more information about the new partnership with the Pebbles Project in Stellenbosch</p><p>​ <br></p><p>​<br></p>
SU encourages students to apply for financial support encourages students to apply for financial supportCentre for Undergraduate Bursaries<p>​Stellenbosch University (SU) is pleased to announce the opening of applications for the 2025 SU funding opportunities for undergraduates.</p><p><strong>Application dates</strong></p><ul><li><strong>Current students: Applications are open 1 July 2024 – 30 September 2024</strong></li><li><strong>Prospective students: Applications are open 1 – 31 October 2024 only</strong></li></ul><p>SU encourages all current and prospective students to apply for bursaries for 2025. Funding allocations are based on financial need and/or academic merit.</p><p>All applicants are advised to first review the <a href=""><strong class="ms-rteForeColor-1" style="">Application Process</strong></a> tab on the website of SU's Centre for Undergraduate Bursaries (CUBL) for detailed information on the support documents that applicants need to complete. A student's unique, eight-digit SU student number will allow access to the online application portal. The application process is accessible and user-friendly and – once you have prepared your support documents to upload – the form will take about 15 minutes to complete. </p><p>According to Bianca Andrews, Head: Institutional and Corporate Funds, they received just over 9 000 applications for funding last year. “Our streamlined process eliminated barriers and ensured that every student had an equal chance to apply."</p><p>Andrews said CUBL also manages and administers bursaries for external donors according to specific criteria, including financial need, academic performance, and leadership. To be considered for one of these bursaries, applicants will need to complete an additional unique application form and upload it when prompted during the online application process. There are also several SU family bursaries available to eligible students. </p><p>“We look forward to receiving the 2025 funding applications and will continue our pursuit to support students on their academic journeys," Andrews concluded.</p><p>Please note that SU funding is limited, and applying does not guarantee funding. For more information, visit the SU Bursaries and Loans <a href=""><strong class="ms-rteForeColor-1" style="">website</strong></a>.</p><p>For funding queries, contact SU Client Services on 021 808 9111 or email <a href=""><strong></strong></a>. Include the applicant's SU student number (#) in this subject line, #/ SUFO-25, for efficient assistance. </p><p>Click <a href=""><strong class="ms-rteForeColor-1" style="">here</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteForeColor-1" style=""> </strong>to apply now.<br><br></p>
SU’s manifesto analysis helps parties find common ground during coalition talks’s manifesto analysis helps parties find common ground during coalition talks Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Anél Lewis]<p></p><p>With coalition talks in full swing, Stellenbosch University's (SU) <a href="">Policy Innovation Lab</a> has analysed the manifestos of the four largest parties to find out whether there is common ground on some of the larger issues of national interest. These include the implementation of national health insurance, land reform policies and the basic income grant. </p><p>This “cheat sheet" is now available to parties and the public to better understand where the ANC, DA, EFF and the uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) Party agree and disagree, explains Prof Willem Fourie, head of the Policy Innovation Lab. </p><p>While there is agreement on several issues, notably the need for policies to improve early childhood development and numeracy and literacy at schools, and the importance of better training for SAPS staff to deal with gender-based violence, the parties differ on many others. </p><p>Fourie highlighted the methodological challenges faced during the analysis. “Each manifesto had a unique structure and internal logic, making direct comparisons challenging. We had to develop a system to cluster topics thematically without relying on the individual logic of any manifesto," he explains.</p><p>To overcome these challenges, the team employed the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework for clustering topics. This international development agenda, which South Africa subscribes to, provided a consistent basis for comparison. </p><p>Another critical aspect of the analysis was determining the levels of convergence among the manifesto topics. “We needed to strike a balance between simplicity and ensuring the qualitative analysis was reliable," Fourie notes. The team devised a tagging system categorising topics into 'strong congruence,' 'moderate congruence,' and 'low congruence'. Entries with insufficient information were marked accordingly.</p><p>Dr Itai Makone, who contributed to the analysis, emphasises its purpose: “The tool is also meant to assist political parties in understanding the topics and themes they agree on with other parties, show areas that lack information, and help develop ways to build consensus where disagreement exits."</p><ul><li>To read more about the manifesto comparison, click <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a>.  <br></li></ul><p>​<br></p>
World IP Day sparks energy solutions dialogue at Stellenbosch University IP Day sparks energy solutions dialogue at Stellenbosch UniversityJeraldine Menon, Innovus<p>​​World Intellectual Property Day is an occasion that highlights the importance of Intellectual Property (IP) in recognising creativity and innovation. The event takes place on 26 April annually and is marked by discussions and networking between researchers, academics, industry, and policymakers. The Innovus Technology Transfer Office (TTO) held two events during the week of World IP Day, one to educate and interact with undergraduates and the other, to connect researchers and academic through dialogue around Sustainable Development Goal 7<a href="/english/Lists/dualnews/CustomNew.aspx?Source=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Esun%2Eac%2Eza%2Fenglish%2FLists%2Fdualnews%2FMy%2520Items%2520View%2Easpx&RootFolder=#_msocom_1">[AN1]</a>  (SDG7), affordable and clean energy.<br></p><p>At Stellenbosch University (SU), Innovus TTO champions the protection and utilisation of IP from the excellent research pipeline in our various faculties. The events held during the week of World IP Day explored the symbiotic relationship between IP and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), demonstrating how IP can be used as a critical tool in addressing global challenges.<a href="/english/Lists/dualnews/CustomNew.aspx?Source=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Esun%2Eac%2Eza%2Fenglish%2FLists%2Fdualnews%2FMy%2520Items%2520View%2Easpx&RootFolder=#_msocom_2">[PM2]</a>  One of the highlights of these events was seeing the eagerness of students to participate in the Q&A around what IP is and identifying its various forms.</p><p>The theme for 2024 World IP Day as set out by the World Intellectual Property <a href="/english/Lists/dualnews/CustomNew.aspx?Source=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Esun%2Eac%2Eza%2Fenglish%2FLists%2Fdualnews%2FMy%2520Items%2520View%2Easpx&RootFolder=#_msocom_3">[PM3]</a> Organisation (WIPO) was: “IP and the SDGs: Building our common future with innovation and creativity". According to the WIPO's official statement, the aim of this year's theme was to encourage out-of-the-box thinking in “how we live, work and play. World IP Day 2024 is an opportunity to explore how intellectual property (IP) encourages and can amplify the innovative and creative solutions that are so crucial to building our common future."</p><p>Educating students on the complexity of IP is one of Innovus TTO's core priorities. Through their extensive interactions with students, both undergraduates and postgraduates, there is enthusiasm around topics of IP and entrepreneurship. Therefore, in celebrating World IP Day 2024, Innovus TTO collaborated with IP attorneys, Spoor and Fisher, to host a student event which took place at the Neelsie Cinema on 24 April. Providing a comprehensive overview of IP, patent attorney Dirk Hanekom explained what it is, what it can look like and its real-world relevance. He also highlighted the alignment of IP with the SDGs, emphasising the need for more innovation, creativity, and collaboration, particularly focusing on SDG 6, 'Clean Water and Sanitation.</p><p>Expanding on the role of IP, Dirk clarified how it incentivises innovation, promotes market competition, enhances public welfare and drives economic growth. Drawing from practical examples in research, he demonstrated how IP empowers individuals and institutions, such as universities, to assess the commercial viability of their ventures. By safeguarding their IP, it not only protects their innovations but enables industry-wide efforts to avoid duplication and promote adoption of best-in-class technologies. This depth of understanding is crucial for students as it equips them with the knowledge to identify research gaps early in their academic journeys and to recognise newly created IP that may have commercial value. This will enable them to either expand existing research or introduce fresh perspectives, products, or methodologies to enrich existing knowledge.</p><p>Echoing Dirk's sentiments, Jason Samuels, co-founder and CEO of GreenX Engineering, an SU and Innovus spinout company, recounted their experience with IP in their startup phases. GreenX Engineering was birthed from the energy crisis and specifically its effect on schools in South Africa. They identified a gap in the market for a tool that can accurately assess energy consumption and its source. Their research revealed significant energy saving opportunities in schools. In his talk at the student event Jason recounted how protecting their IP assets enabled them to make a tangible impact on schools, further demonstrating the value of IP in fostering innovation, specifically with SDG 7 'Affordable and Clean Energy.' The event was hosted by Ian van Zyl, Technology Transfer Specialist at Innovus TTO, who kept the student audience engaged with a visual representation of what every day IP looks like using a Maties Coffee Hub disposable cup. The students were amused to find that the IP in that cup was a lot more than just the logo. Ending off the hour-long event, the students answered quiz questions and won fantastic prizes. They concluded the event with a good chat and a lunch goodie bag.</p><p>Conversations around IP and SDG7 intensified at the researcher's event, held on the evening of 24 April<sup> </sup>2024. GeoSun founder Riaan Meyer, set the scene with a captivating overview of trends in the solar power industry, showcasing fascinating images of inventions such as sprawling utility solar farms in China, floating solar panels and inverters - although he reckoned that South Africa (SA) isn't likely to adopt this trend due to the unoccupied land still available in the country. He further revealed images of solar-panel-clad buildings, which is already a trend in SA. Interestingly, he briefly touched on agrivoltaics, using regular Photovoltaic (PV) modules with crops growing in the shade of the panels. These crops could not previously be produced in those environments.</p><p>As a parting sentiment on solar trends, Riaan touched on how PV modules and batteries are increasing in size. The biggest battery on record in SA is 540watts in size, although this is an Eskom project that is still currently underway.</p><p>The momentum of the discussion carried into a candid panel discussion featuring Andrew Taylor, Head of Legal and Trading at NOA Group, Ralph Van Niekerk, Patent Attorney and Partner at Von Seidels, Prof. Thinus Booysen, Professor in Engineering at SU and Riaan Meyer. Facilitator Ian van Zyl from the Innovus TTO, dove straight into the commercialisation of IP. Taylor responded by stating that technology is often (not) the hardest aspect of a solution for industry because apart from it needing to be technically viable for the SA landscape, there needs to be a return on investment (RoI) and most importantly, there needs to be a Just Energy Transition. All of this will determine whether a technology can be deployed.</p><p>In response to this and referencing the electric taxi retrofit project, Prof. Booysen highlighted the value of know-how over patents, especially in the context of a developing country like SA.</p><p>Sharing Prof. Booysen's sentiments, van Niekerk discussed United States companies and how they value know-how and trademarks above patents. He also noted that SU's high energy patenting activity suggests the high level of progress being made in a variety of novel technologies.</p><p>The panel's bottom line was the urgency for liberalisation of the energy industry to ensure growth of the SA economy. One potential solution was a suggestion to reopen the Independent Power Procurement Office. Van Niekerk also encouraged IP licensing for innovative solutions, citing National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) incentives. While Riaan Meyer suggested more solar power and PV module recycling to reduce energy costs. As a long-term solution to the energy crisis, Prof. Booysen iterated that South Africans need increased awareness of energy, noting that this is where innovation should be prioritised.</p><p>Commenting on the planning and outcome of the two World IP Day events Nolene Singh, Deputy Director of Innovus TTO shared that “these events were more than just a dialogue; they created a space for insightful discussions that have a high potential to influence renewable energy research and industry trends."</p><p>Whilst the World IP Day events provided valuable insights it also brought to the fore the sobering reality of our energy crisis, underscoring the need for more research and innovation to save our planet.</p><p><br><br></p><p>​<br></p>
Stellenbosch University first African institution to drive food sustainability with carbon-tracking software University first African institution to drive food sustainability with carbon-tracking softwareInnovus<p>​​​​Stellenbosch University's (SU) Compliance and Catering Office has partnered with the Swedish-based startup K​limato to promote a more conscious approach to meal preparation and selection among staff and students. SU is the first African institution to pilot Klimato's carbon footprint software. The project is one of many initiatives that <a href="">SUNCOM</a>, SU's Business Office, is implementing as part of its long-term strategy to lower carbon emissions and encourage sustainable practices within its operations. </p><p>Food production is responsible for a quarter of the world's Greenhouse Gas (GHG) total emissions1 because of various farming practices, food processing, fisheries, and crop production. As a result, our food consumption directly impacts climate change because of the carbon emissions induced by the production of different ingredients. </p><p>Klimato's software calculates the carbon footprint of meals and ingredients via a country-specific database. Therefore, using this tool, SU can help mitigate climate change by educating students and catering service providers to rethink the environmental impact of the combination of ingredients in the meals served on our campus. As the first institution to pilot the software in Africa, SU's Compliance and Catering Office hopes to supply valuable contributions to the food and ingredients database that will encourage the adoption of climate-conscious meal preparation and selections within the campus community.</p><p>"To showcase our commitment to sustainability, we prioritise initiatives to preserve the environment, promote social responsibility, and ensure economic viability for future generations. Through our combined efforts within the SUNCOM division we strive to reduce our carbon footprint, implement renewable energy solutions, and minimise waste generation," says Bennie Malan, Head of SUNCOM's Compliance and Catering Office.</p><p>Earlier this year, SUNCOM reported that 806 693 meals were booked online from January 2023 to December 2023. Such a high number of meals being prepared reaffirms the need for a more sustainable approach to food preparation and selection, with the goal of lowering the environmental impact. </p><p>According to Malan, the Klimato tool is currently in its testing phase on campus in three residence preparation kitchens. Once implemented across campus, it aims to:</p><ul><li>demonstrate to students the environmental impact of various menu options and empower them to make more sustainable choices;</li><li>improve meal recipes to produce lower Carbon emissions; </li><li>localise data to add to the Klimato South African database; </li><li>encourage the widespread adoption of this or similar software; and </li><li>enable a reduction in the carbon emissions produced by the catering service providers appointed by the Compliance and Catering Office.</li></ul><p>Malan and his team are working closely with SU's appointed catering service providers during the test phase to utilise this tool and consciously adapt the ingredients in their meal options.</p><p>Through impactful collaborations like these SU continues to demonstrate the impact of innovation in society. Leading by example, the University strives to achieve a net zero campus environment by 2050.</p><p> <br></p><p>About SUNCOM</p><p>SUNCOM is a division of Innovus (Innovation and Commercialisation) responsible for the University's fifth revenue stream. This includes technology, intellectual property-related income, and pure commercial income. While SUNCOM feeds back into the University, all our divisions are financially independent.</p><p>For more information on SUNCOM, click <a href="">here</a></p><ol style="list-style-type:decimal;"><li><a href=""></a> <br></li></ol><p><br></p>
Open Day: A resounding success Day: A resounding successLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">The Division Student Affairs (DSAf) annual Open Day at Stellenbosch University's Tygerberg campus has once again proven to be a resounding success in providing students with valuable information, fostering engagement, and creating a sense of belonging for all students within the university community. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">On 16 April, DSAf hosted its third Open Day at the campus. The event provides an  opportunity for DSAf staff from the Stellenbosch campus to join their Tygerberg counterparts in interacting with undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as staff from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. The aim is to raise awareness of the comprehensive range of support services, leadership development training, and co-curricular offerings within DSAf that are available to students throughout their academic journey.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The DSAf Open Day initiative was conceptualised by Ms Khairoonisa Foflonker, Manager of DSAf's Tygerberg office, to ensure students have easy access to information and address the diverse needs of students pursuing different degrees.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Increasing the visibility of our co-curricular offerings ensures that students are developed in a holistic manner in line with SU's Graduate Attributes. It also fosters awareness around our support services which includes, but is not limited to, food security, and mental health support, and accessibility awareness," explained Foflonker.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Centre for Student Life and Learning (CSLL) and the Centre for Student Counselling and Development (CSCD) set up stalls at the entrance of the Tygerberg Student Centre and the Hippokrates Residence lawn, which students could visit during their lunch hour.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Students were able to find out more about the work of the centres and the units within each centre and were encouraged to ask any questions they had regarding the support, leadership, and personal development offerings available to them after the university's Welcoming period.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“After the Welcoming period, many students may forget about the services offered by our Centre for Student Life and Learning, and the Centre for Student Counselling and Development. Therefore, having stalls and engaging with registered students in all year groups in a fun and interactive environment is a reminder of the support we offer in order to help our students to live, learn and thrive in a welcoming and inclusive environment," said Foflonker</p><p style="text-align:justify;">To foster greater awareness of student leadership structures and the upcoming national elections, the Tygerberg Students' Representative Council (TSRC) and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of South Africa also participated in the Open Day. Even Pokkel, the university mascot, joined in on the fun, which included a live musical performance, and a lucky draw, which students and staff could only enter after visiting all the stalls at the Open Day to obtain information to submit an entry form.<br></p>
Financial Sector Conduct Authority visits Maties to equip students with critical financial skills Sector Conduct Authority visits Maties to equip students with critical financial skillsLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) recently visited Stellenbosch University (SU) to present an interactive workshop on financial literacy to Maties as part of the FSCA's Consumer Education Department's objective to empower students by bolstering their financial literacy. The Financial Literacy for Tertiary Students workshops, of which there were two, were co-hosted by the Centre for Student Counselling and Development (CSCD) within the Division Student Affairs (DSAf).<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Both workshops were presented in hybrid form to all undergraduate and postgraduate students at all SU's campuses and drew more than 600 students in-person and online.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to the FSCA, “tertiary students encounter a multitude of financial decisions that can significantly impact their futures". Students often become entrapped in debt while studying - be it by accumulating credit card or store card debt - and make uninformed financial decisions as they do not have access to proper financial guidance or knowledge. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This has negative consequences that will impact their future and access to credit for an important investment like a house, especially where graduates have to work with money," said Mr Ephraim Kgosana, the project leader of Consumer Education Relations at the FSCA.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“There is a persistent need," added Kgosana, “to conduct interactive seminars and workshops at tertiary institutions to equip students with practical skills and knowledge that will help them navigate the financial landscape competently."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The workshops focused on matters specifically related to students such as budgeting, saving, managing debt, investing, and planning financially for the future. Students were able to ask specific questions related to issues that they were struggling with or had encountered when dealing with their personal finances. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“It is important for students to gain financial literacy at this stage as they are already managing funding they receive through bursaries, or via NSFAS, and must know how to balance everyday expenses which before would have been handled by a parent or guardian throughout their years of study," said Kgosana.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Lyndwill Clarke, the Head of Department: Consumer Education at the FSCA, Lyndon Johnson from the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, specifically the office of Consumer Protection, and Selina Maketa from the Credit Bureau Association also addressed students. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Since its first workshop, the FSCA initiative has taken a collaborative approach with key stakeholders invited to participate at institutions. These partners include the National Credit Regulator (NCR), Credit Bureau Association (CBA), and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA). This has ensured that students gain access to organisations focused on wide-ranging financial matters, and get up-to-date information too. During the workshops at SU, students were able to obtain their recent credit record for free and receive advice on improving it from representatives of the credit bureau Experian.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Kgosana said that the Financial Literacy for Tertiary Students initiative will continue to evolve according to students changing needs, with topics such as wealth creation, entrepreneurship and financial planning for the future becoming more important to students. SU was one of eight universities that the FSCA visited in 2024. The others included the North-West University, Rhodes University, University of Limpopo, University of Johannesburg, University of Free State, University of KwaZulu Natal, and Sefako Makgatho University in the North-West.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Through constant interaction and feedback sessions based on the Monitoring and Evaluation processes, we continue to witness first-hand the positive impact of financial literacy on students' lives such as improved budgeting skills and heightened awareness of financial pitfalls."<br></p>
SU’s Faculty of Science awards four joint international degrees’s Faculty of Science awards four joint international degreesWiida Fourie-Basson (Media: Faculty of Science)<p>​​Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Science this week awarded four joint PhD degrees with universities in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy in the fields of chemistry, physics, microbiology, and zoology.<br></p><p>A joint degree means that the students were co-supervised by a researcher from both universities, spending time at each institution to work on their research. Based on an agreement between the two universities, the degree is then awarded by both institutions.</p><p>Dr Dina Miora was awarded a PhD in physics from SU and the Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany; Dr Wessel Myburgh a PhD in microbiology from SU and the University of Padova, Italy; Dr Gestél Kuyler a PhD in polymer science and molecular pharmacology from SU and Coventry University in the United Kingdom; and Dr Laurie Araspin a PhD in Botany and Zoology from SU and the <em>Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle</em> (MNHN) in France.</p><p>Altogether 37 PhD, 75 MSc, and nine BScHonours degrees were awarded at the graduation ceremony on 26 March 2024 at the Coetzenburg Centre in Stellenbosch.<br></p><p>Myburgh says his research benefited immensely from the international exposure: “The expertise of the two groups complemented each other perfectly. In my case, Prof. Lorenzo Favaro's research group has experience in converting waste to energy using microbial technologies based on anaerobic digestion. They also have a wealth of knowledge in bioplastic production. Both these fields were lacking in our group. We, on the other hand, have a very strong background in recombinant yeast expression systems for fungal hydrolase production. I would not have been able to make so much progress in my PhD if it was done at either of the institutions alone."</p><p>Kuyler says her experience was both transformative and challenging: “Pursuing a dual-award PhD with the goal of bridging the disciplines of Polymer Science and Molecular Pharmacology was a daunting task, especially considering my limited prior knowledge in the latter. I am immensely thankful for this invaluable opportunity that has enabled me to expand my knowledge and develop into a versatile, multidisciplinary scientist."</p><p>Araspin's study leader, Prof. John Measey, says the joint degree came about as an extension of an ongoing collaboration between himself and Dr Anthony Harrell at the MNHN in France: “We were interested in finding out extreme differences between populations of frogs that live natively in South Africa and invasive populations in France. The biggest advantage was certainly for the student to have spent time in both countries, working on a topic important to both countries." Measey is a senior researcher at the Centre for Invasion Biology at SU.</p><p>Miora, who is also an alumnus of the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar, says the experience in Germany gave her the opportunity to work in an advanced and fully equipped laboratory: “It was rather quick to fix any work-related problems given the extensive human and materials resources at hand. At SU, each student project is quite different, even though we are all working in photonics. While it takes longer to solve an issue, because only my supervisor fully understands the problem, it also provides us with valuable skills to solve most problems by ourselves. In the end, being able to both work in a team and independently are valuable career skills," she says.</p><p>Despite having to cope with new languages and cultures, as well as the significant additional administrative burden of navigating the systems and requirements of another university, the students agree that it was a worthwhile and life-changing experience. </p><p>Prof. Louise Warnich, Dean of the Faculty of Science at SU, says international partnerships and joint degrees are very important for a research-intensive faculty: “It strengthens our ability to tackle important issues by joining forces with international specialists. It also offers an opportunity for our PhD students to become part of international networks early in their careers, and to gain access to specialist knowledge and facilities."</p><p>Both Kuyler and Myburgh's research also led to the registration of international patents and the establishment of spin-out companies <a href="">Nanosene</a> and <a href="">Urobo Biotech</a>. Miora is currently a postdoctoral fellow and image analyst at the Medical Research Council (MRC) <a href="">Laboratory of Molecular Biology</a> (LMB) in Cambridge, England.<br></p><p>On the photo above, from left to right, Dr Gestél Kuyler, Dr Wessel Myburgh, and Dr Dina Miora. <em>Pho</em><em>to: Stefan Els</em><br></p><p>​<br></p>
From Madagascar to the world with a PhD in physics Madagascar to the world with a PhD in physicsWiida Fourie-Basson (Media: Faculty of Science)<p>​​​Hailing from a rural village in Madagascar, Dr Dina Miora's academic journey has taken her to South Africa and Germany and today she is employed as a postdoctoral scientist and image analyst at the Medical Research Council (MRC) <a href="">Laboratory of Molecular Biology</a> (LMB) in Cambridge, England.</p><p>When she walks over the stage to be capped with a PhD in Physics from Stellenbosch University (SU) and the Friedrich-Schiller University Jena during SU's March graduation ceremony, she has literally and figuratively navigated a long journey marked by overcoming more than one cultural and language barrier, as well as the occasional bouts of home sickness. </p><p>But despite these challenges, during her postgraduate studies she also established a non-profit organisation called <a href="">Itatra</a> with the aim of providing “a better and equal education for all" in Madagascar. According to recent surveys, the number of high school learners majoring in physics, chemistry, and mathematics in Madagascar have dropped from 11% to only 5% between 2007 and 2017. Moreover, the field of optics, her speciality, is not offered at higher education institutions or only offered as a minor subject. 'Itatra' is the Malagasy word for expansion.</p><p>In 2022 she organised a two-week outreach initiative called “Vision" to three high schools in rural Madagascar with the goal of helping learners to see and understand the world through a lens. Supported by funding from <a href="">SPIE</a> (the international society for optics and photonics) learners also received diffraction glasses, as well as fun activities with modular optics <a href="">educational kits</a> from <a href="">OpenUC2</a>. In 2023 she again reached out to the same schools with a <a href="">photo contest</a> to celebrate the International Day of Light. </p><p><strong>From Madagascar to South Africa and the world</strong></p><p>Dina grew up in the rural village Fenoarivo-Be, about 180km from the capital Antananarivo, from where she went on to study mathematics at the University of Antananarivo.</p><p>A lecturer introduced her to the opportunities offered by the <a href="">African Institute for Mathematical Sciences</a> (AIMS) in Muizenberg, South Africa. AIMS is a pan-African network of Centres of Excellence for postgraduate training in the mathematical sciences. </p><p>Participating in AIMS' structured master's programme in 2016, she was introduced to laser physics when she chose to pursue a physics-related project to localise single fluorescent molecules moving in time in noisy images. remove noise from microscopic images. Under the guidance of her study leaders, emeritus professor Erich Rohwer and Dr Gurthwin Bosman at SU's <a href="">Department of Physics</a>, she then obtained an AIMS/DAAD bursary to pursue an MSc in laser physics. Her project focused on the development of microscopical techniques to determine the 3D position and orientation of single molecules.  </p><p>During this time, she met Prof. Rainer Heintzman, head of the <a href="">Department of Microscopy</a> at the Leibnitz Institute of Photonic Technology in Germany, during a workshop of the <a href="">African Laser Centre</a>. According to Dr Bosman, he was so impressed with her work that they started talking about a possible cotutelle for her PhD – this is when a student is jointly enrolled at two universities and spends time at each university. </p><p>At the time, Dina says, the exposure was intense: “Prof. Heintzman was so knowledgeable, and I felt as if I knew nothing. At the same time the meeting made me gain a totally new perspective of the importance of my research."</p><p>For her PhD research, Dina developed new techniques to optimise the modelling of optical systems in order to improve the quality of microscopic images. To achieve that, one requires simulation techniques that are sensitive to images that may be distorted.</p><p>Dr Bosman explains: “An image is like a painting, and if one can determine well enough the width and thickness of the paint brush, then you can mathematically eliminate the impact of finite width and thickness and thereby retrieve a high quality and more accurate painting."</p><p>For her work at the MRC's Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge, she is involved with both research and hands-on projects: “We are currently working with a research group at the University of Cambridge that has developed a software code for tracking single molecules. My task now is to test the efficiency and accuracy of their software," she explains.</p><p>As image analyst, she also handles requests from biologists about image processing and analysis: “They take images of their samples with microscopes, and our task is to help them extract the information that they need from these images." </p><p>For overcoming the language barrier in her field of research, Dina says it helped to avoid Google translate as much as possible: “With research and studies, the language is quite standardised. I found it more effective in the long run to look for the definition of a difficult word in the same language, rather than falling back on Google translate." </p><p>Verbal communication in social situations was, however, a different matter: “I had to learn to be more observant and to understand the context and the culture. It really helped being in a community of people with similar interests and values because it provided a safe zone to practice the new language and immerse yourself in another culture."</p><p>She plans to continue her <a href="">outreach activities</a> to promote physics, chemistry, and optics at high schools in Madagascar: “I believe that education plays an important role in the development of my country. I will continue my outreach activities wherever in the world I find myself. If I happen to stay outside of Africa, I will like it if I can come back from time to time to give training on image processing and analysis," she concludes.</p><p><strong>On the photo above: </strong>Dr Dina Miora at the custom-built microscope set-up in the Department of Physics at Stellenbosch University. <em>Photo: Stefan Els</em></p><p><br></p>
​ Motsepe Foundation donates R800 000 to SRC-driven initiatives​ Motsepe Foundation donates R800 000 to SRC-driven initiatives Lynne Ripppenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">​The Students' Representative Council (SRC) of Stellenbosch University (SU) recently received a donation of R800 000 from the Motsepe Foundation to spend on SRC-driven initiatives that benefit students. The cheque handover took place at an event held in Sandton in Johannesburg.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The SU SRC was one of a number of student governance structures at 26 universities across South Africa to benefit from the overall donation of R30 million made by the Foundation.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">SRC President Phiwokuhle Qabaka, and Thulani Hlatshwayo, Coordinator: Student Governance at SU, received the cheque from Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, CEO and Co-Founder of the Motsepe Foundation, and Dr Rejoice Simelane, Executive Director at Ubuntu-Botho Investments and non-executive Director of African Rainbow Capital Proprietary Limited. Hlatshwayo works in the Unit for Student Governance in the Centre for Student Life and Learning, which forms part of the Division Student Affairs (DSAf).<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The donations form part of several financial commitments the Foundation has made to SRC-driven initiatives focused on student debt, student mental wellness, and gender equality efforts and women's wellbeing – all issues that align with the Foundation's work. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">In an invite issued to the SU SRC by Melissa Anthony, Manager: Education and Projects at the Motsepe Foundation, the Foundation believes that SRCs play “an important role in ensuring a balance between students' academic performance and their social support".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Whilst the Motsepe Foundation has initiated several interventions to support the access, throughput and wellbeing of our bursary recipients, we believe that supporting student-led initiatives adds value to the various interventions deployed by diverse stakeholders," wrote Anthony.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>​Photo: SU's SRC President (third from the left), Phiwokuhle Qabaka, and Thulani Hlatswayo (far right), Coordinator: Student Governance in the Unit for Student Governance, received a cheque donation of R800 000 from Dr Rejoice Simelane (far left), Executive Director at Ubuntu-Botho Investments and non-executive Director of African Rainbow Capital Proprietary Limited, and Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, CEO and Co-Founder of the Motsepe Foundation.</em></p>