Student Affairs
Welkom by Universiteit Stellenbosch



Have your say your sayEquality Unit<h4>​​Stellenbosch University is currently undergoing its review of the HIV/Aids Policy for Students and Staff and the Unfair Discrimination and Harassment Policy. We are calling on the SU staff and student community to join us in providing input, feedback, and your views on these two important policies.<br><br></h4><h4>The policies are available to you in English and Afrikaans for ease reference. Click on the policy name and you will be redirected to it. <br></h4><h4><strong>English:</strong><br></h4><h4><a href="">HIV/Aids Policy for Students and Staff</a> </h4><h4><a href="">Unfair Discrimination and Harassment policy</a><br></h4><h4><strong>Afrikaans:</strong></h4><h4><a href="">HIV/Aids Policy for Students and Staff​</a> </h4><h4><a href="">Unfair Discrimination and Harassment policy​</a><br><br></h4><h4>Feedback on these policies can be sent to Ryan van der Poll at <a href=""></a> or Nadine Christians at <a href=""></a>. When providing your feedback, please include the page number, section and clause which you are referencing. The deadline for your feedback is Monday, 17 May 2021.<br><br></h4><h4>We look forward to your input, insight, and feedback, and encourage the SU community to review these policies which affect everyone. <br></h4>
Data bundles to students bundles to studentsCorporate Communication<p>Dear students<br></p><p>I trust that you made a successful start to the academic year, which will no doubt again prove to be quite challenging!</p><p>As a result of COVID-19 regulations we have limited capacity in our venues for students to attend lectures. Many of the lecturers are streaming their lectures from these venues to allow students who cannot attend physically the opportunity to take part virtually. We know that some students who are not in a University residence and who are commuting to campus daily might find it difficult to find a suitable space with WiFi to take part in lectures.</p><p>To assist students in the interim, Stellenbosch University (SU) will provide undergraduate and postgraduate students with a once-off data bundle to enable you to access these streamed lectures while we arrange for suitable venues. We hope to have a list of these venues on campus finalised soon and will communicate with you in this regard within the next week. Please note that this is a once-off arrangement just to tide you over until the venues are available.</p><p>The provisioning of data bundles will be done automatically for all undergraduate and postgraduate SU students who have registered through the annual SU registration process, as well as unregistered students with outstanding fees. We will be providing these students with data bundles so that they can access SUNLearn and the live-streamed lectures as per agreement between the Rectorate and SRC. </p><p><strong>Extended registration period</strong></p><p>Please further note that SU has extended its registration period in line with the national call and due to the NSFAS funding delays. We will thus accommodate registration requests until 26 March 2021, and the online registration system has therefore been accordingly re-opened. The registration amendment period will run concurrently with the extended registration period to assist our students with any outstanding registration matters.  </p><p>Self-registration can be done from any computer with access to internet on <a href=""></a>. For more information, find the link to registration on <a href="/"></a> or please <a href="/english/students/Pages/Registration.aspx">click here</a>. Students who however experience any issue with the online registration system can contact the applicable faculty administrator/officer. Please <a href="/english/Documents/2021/Student%20Services%20Contact%20Details.pdf">click here</a> for contact details for faculty or programme specific information and services. </p><p>Please consult the dedicated <a href="/english/Pages/COVID-19-Coronavirus-Disease-2019.aspx">COVID-19 page</a> on the SU website for useful information, including frequently asked questions (FAQs), as well as a record of all communiques and updates since the start of the pandemic. </p><p>Please take care and stay safe.</p><p><strong>Prof Deresh Ramjugernath</strong><br><strong> Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Learning and Teaching</strong></p><p> <br><br></p><p>​<br></p>
Student finances and registration finances and registrationDr Ronel Retief: Registrar<p>​​​Dear students<br></p><p>We have taken note of the national student financial crisis and we share your concerns. Student funding and the impact it has on access to higher education is high on the agenda of Stellenbosch University (SU).</p><p><strong>Registration</strong></p><p>Last week, the University confirmed that all first-time entry students are able to register. Returning senior students with confirmation of funding in the form of a bursary or loan are also allowed to register if their confirmed funding exceeded their debt of the previous year. These students are exempt from having to pay the first compulsory instalment at registration. In addition, returning students with no outstanding debt are able to register and can enter a formal three-month payment arrangement for the first compulsory instalment at registration.</p><p>The University has also extended its registration period in line with the national call and due to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding delays. We will thus accommodate registration requests until 26 March 2021, and the online registration system has been reopened to align with this decision.</p><p>We are happy to confirm that to date we have managed to register 19 480 undergraduate students compared to 18 794 at the same time last year.</p><p><strong>Access to SUNLearn</strong></p><p>We acknowledge that students who have been unable to register are running the risk of falling behind academically, due to not having online access to study material. We have therefore arranged that students with outstanding fees will have access to SUNLearn while they are assisted, on a case by case basis, to find solutions that will deal with their debt and allow them to register. The Student Debt Task Team discussed below is involved in this process.</p><p>Access will be granted based on the programme for which the students were registered last year. If there are any issues with regard to access to SUNLearn for any elective modules, please contact Ms Belinda Durelle at <a href=""></a>. Note that this access will be terminated at the end of March for all students who at that stage have not registered for the 2021 academic year.</p><p><strong>NSFAS appeals and allowances</strong></p><p>Over the past few years, we have engaged with NSFAS, and the Department of Higher Education and Training to see how we as a sector can address the financial needs of our students. While these important conversations are ongoing, we as an institution, have committed to ensure that no academically deserving student be left behind due to their financial circumstances.</p><p>The University has made institutional funds available to assist students who are waiting for the outcome of their NSFAS appeals. NSFAS requires that students pass a minimum of 50% of their required academic modules per annum to qualify for the continuation of their NSFAS bursary. Students who did not meet this requirement have to appeal to NSFAS for funding.</p><p>All our NSFAS students who were funded in 2020 are currently receiving allowances for their learning material, meals, private accommodation and travel. The payment of allowances is an automated process, and our Centre for Undergraduate Bursaries and Loans has, up to this point, disbursed R44 390 000 to 2 637 of our senior returning NSFAS students. This number represents almost 80% of our estimated total number of senior NSFAS recipients for 2021.</p><p>We are currently waiting for NSFAS to release the list of first-year students that will be funded. Once we receive the list, the disbursement of allowances will commence. </p><p>We are also working hard to ensure that NSFAS funded students, who reside in private accommodation will be able to pay their rent instalments at the end of March 2021. The Centre for Undergraduate Bursaries and Loans has appointed additional temporary staff to scrutinise lease agreements of private accredited accommodation towards this purpose.</p><p><strong>Student Debt Task Team</strong></p><p>We have established a Student Debt Task Team who annually works towards removing financial blockages that would prevent students to register. The task team is a collaborative initiative between the Centre for Undergraduate Bursaries and Loans, the Postgraduate Office, the Division for Student Fees, Stellenbosch University International and the Students' Representative Council (SRC).</p><p>In 2020, the team secured R3 million in funding, which was used to settle outstanding study fees for students in need. Currently, the task team is focused on assisting the last 543 non-registered senior undergraduate students, as well as some postgraduate students, to secure funding for outstanding student fees. An online form has been developed to assist students with the application process. Requests for the form can be addressed to <a href=""></a>.</p><p><strong>#Action4Inclusion campaign</strong></p><p>The University has also pledged support for the <a href="">#Action4Inclusion</a> campaign. This funding initiative is aimed at ensuring academic inclusion by settling outstanding study fees for students in need. The initiative was established by the SRC and Prof Thuli Madonsela, who holds the Law Trust Chair in Social Justice in our Faculty of Law, with the support of our Development and Alumni Relations Division (DAR).</p><p>The University, through DAR, is also committed to creating various other sustainable partnerships with organisations and donors to secure bursary funding for students. Besides #Action4Inclusion, several fundraising campaigns have recently been run online, including #MatiesMakeADifference, #Train4Fees and #MaskedMasterpieces.</p><p><strong>Postgraduate funding</strong></p><p>We have also ensured that postgraduate students have access to funding. During the next three years, the University will invest R120 million in postgraduate bursaries. This injection of funds will make up for the decline in bursary funding from the National Research Foundation. These bursaries are available on a competitive basis to any student in South Africa who is interested in studying at the University.</p><p><strong>Collaboration with student structures</strong></p><p>At SU we value transparency with our students, and in this regard members of the Finance Division met and consulted with the SRC Executive regarding tuition and accommodation fee increases as well as funding. In addition, the Division of Student Affairs held registration workshops with the SRC and various student structures and student volunteers in November 2020 and February 2021. These workshops equipped students with the necessary information to support their peers during the registration period. We are committed to continue working with the SRC and other student structures in finding feasible solutions to these and other pressing matters.</p><p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p><p>We are well aware that the student financial crisis is one that cannot be solved immediately, and that work will have to continue within the sector to ensure that all students have access to higher education, regardless of their financial backgrounds.</p><p>At SU, we are convinced that an integrated approach to managing student debt and facilitating registration will ensure that the University is accessible to qualifying students from all backgrounds, including those who face financial barriers to participation in university education. We are committed to working collaboratively with the sector and with you, our students, to find viable solutions to the crisis, whether at our own institution or within the wider higher education sector.</p><p>We thank our colleagues in the Registrar's responsibility centre, Student Finances, Undergraduate Bursaries and Loans, the Postgraduate Office, SU International and the Task Team for Student Debt, as well as our SRC for their commitment to resolve these matters.</p><p>Wishing you all the best with your studies this year!</p><p><strong>Dr Ronel Retief</strong><br><strong> Registrar</strong></p>
‘Better’ Huis ten Bosch reopens and welcomes new Maties‘Better’ Huis ten Bosch reopens and welcomes new MatiesCorporate Communication and Marketing/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking [Rozanne Engel & Petro Mostert] <p></p><p><br></p><p>Stellenbosch University's Huis ten Bosch (HtB), which was damaged by a fire in 2019, has officially reopened.</p><p>The student residence was transformed into a modern, fit-for-purpose residence, which will welcome 146 Matie students this year, 52 of them being seniors and 94 newcomers.     </p><p>HtB Residence Head Karen Swart says that although many improvements have been made, the essence of the original building is still present.</p><p>Charin Skeen, project manager at Facilities Management for the repair and refurbishment of HtB, says the dining and entertainment room's timber floor was at the end of its lifetime and it has now been replaced with a new timber floor. “During the project it was revealed that the two original HtB staircases still retained their timber treads which had been hidden under a layer of vinyl sheeting. These timber treads have now been refurbished and are proudly displayed as part of the original fabric of the building," says Skeen.</p><p>“The improvements are all student-centered and aimed at enhancing each resident's living experience during their time at Huis ten Bosch. I hope the students can make the new and improved space their own and enjoy the various upgrades," says Swart.</p><p>The devastating fire that ripped through the women's residence on 12 August 2019, left the residence extensively damaged and destroyed the roof above eight rooms on the third floor. </p><p>At the time SU management, staff, students, community members and alumni showed tremendous support towards all 164 Huis ten Bosch residents. The students were also provided with alternative accommodation, laptops and other resources. </p><p>The repair and construction work began at the beginning of September 2019 and the upgrades and repair work amounted to around R62,5 million.  </p><p>The refurbished HtB now complies with the most recent municipal fire regulations, are equipped with modern kitchenettes for students on every floor and the electrical and electronic installations have been completely refurbished. The whole roof has been replaced and all student bedrooms, stairwells and passages have been fitted with fire doors as required per regulation. The residence has also been fitted with a brand new fire detection and public address system.</p><p>According to Skeen, the residence has been upgraded with a view to serve students well for another 30 years and now includes facilities for persons with disabilities making it universally accessible.  </p><p>According to Stellenbosch University Chief Operating Officer Prof Stan du Plessis, HtB is one of many ongoing projects under the current campus renewal programme, which is in place to ensure that students and staff live, work and study in a place which is safe, equipped with modern technology and accessible to all. “In the immediate aftermath of the fire, I said I had full confidence that we will deliver a better Huis ten Bosch and I am proud to say that we did it," said Du Plessis. <br></p><p>​<br></p>
NSFAS funding 2021 funding 2021Stellenbosch University / Universiteit Stellenbosch<p></p><p>Stellenbosch University takes note of the urgent concerns of students regarding their NSFAS funding for 2021. All first-time entry students (FTEN) who have received confirmation of their NSFAS funding will be able to register. Returning students with confirmation of funding in the form of a bursary or loan will also be allowed to register if their confirmed funding exceeds their debt of the previous year. The media statement by the Minister has just been released indicating “that Cabinet agreed that funding should be reprioritised from the budget of the Department of Higher Education and Training in order to ensure that all deserving NSFAS-qualifying students are able to receive funding support for the 2021 academic year and NSFAS will now be able to release funds for new students qualifying for NSFAS bursary support".<br></p><p>​<br></p>
New Maties' academic journey officially starts New Maties' academic journey officially startsCorporate Communication/ Korporatiewe Kommunikasie<p>Thousands of first-year students have officially commenced their academic journey at Stellenbosch University (SU).<br></p><p>On Thursday evening, the University hosted its annual Welcoming event, which included the signature Dream Walk. The event formed part of the University's Welcoming Programme, which has been adapted to a comprehensive two-week programme and focuses on providing a transformative student experience within the provisions of COVID-19 protocols.</p><p>During the Dream Walk, students, who walked in groups of 50, passed underneath a banner hanging over Victoria Street, which symbolically marked the moment that they start their academic journey at SU. Students also attached cards with their hand-written dreams on one of the trees lining Victoria Street.</p><p>In his virtual welcoming address on Thursday evening, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers commended the class of 2021 for preserving.</p><p>“Well done! We're proud of you! We would also like to thank all who have helped you to get to where are today – your parents, your schools and the rest of the community. Now the pleasure of accompanying you further on this path is ours," he said.</p><p>“Students, you've shown grit and determination, agility and resilience … qualities that will stand you in good stead as you take on the challenges and opportunities of this next stage of your life's journey.</p><p>“You are entering a wonderful phase – a time that, in years to come, you will most probably remember as the best years of your life. You will be exposed to new knowledge and led on a journey of discovery by excellent mentors, teachers and researchers at this world-class higher education institution with its top facilities."De Villiers also informed students that they have access to an extensive network at SU, from the student leaders and mentors in residences or PSOs, to lecturers and other staff in faculty and the administrative units of the University, including the dedicated Division of Student Affairs. </p><p>“Don't hesitate to ask for help. It's not a sign of weakness, but of strength. We're all in this together, and we will go forward with you.</p><p>“That is also how we will overcome the pandemic – by working together. If each one of us takes responsibility for our own actions, we will be able to keep our campuses open. And thus, not only the University but also the surrounding communities and businesses, will be able to flourish," he said. </p><p>Xola Njengele, Chairperson of the Stellenbosch Student Representative Council encouraged the class of 2021 to use this new chapter to take charge of their individual stories.  </p><p>“This is a time whereby you also learn way more about those around you and your surroundings as well. The learnings will not always be some marvellous epiphany, no, it is most times quite small and clear, like listening or just pronouncing someone's name correctly."</p><p>He also emphasised the available student support at SU and said the SRC wanted each Matie to have a favourable experience throughout their time at SU. </p><p>“In fact, our vision, which states 'We strive to be a productive and integrated structure that encourages holistic student success and produces tangible results,' really speaks to how much of an impact we hope to have on all students."​<br></p><p>​<br></p>
SU welcoming newcomers in special and memorable way welcoming newcomers in special and memorable wayCorporate Communication and Marketing/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking [Sandra Mulder]<p>​Committed to succeed with the academic project and to remain sustainable as a leading higher education institution, Stellenbosch University (SU) will be welcoming first-year students to its campuses this week in a slightly different way than before in order to adhere to all COVID-19 protocols to keep infections low and protect the health services.<br></p><p>This year, the University has adapted its annual weeklong Welcoming Programme to a comprehensive two-week programme for first-year students, which is focused on providing a transformative student experience within the provisions of COVID-19 protocols.</p><p>Another new edition this year to enhance the welcoming of newcomers was the introduction of the online <a href="/english/welcome/Pages/Online-Onboarding.aspx"><strong>Onboarding Programme</strong></a> that was rolled out early in February already. This exciting programme aims to orientate students that will be with us for the first time and prepare them for the practical aspects of their studies. The Onboarding Programme is available on SUNLearn (the University's learning management system), where students will spend a lot of time during their study career. </p><p>Some components of the <a href="/english/welcome/Pages/default.aspx"><strong>SU Welcoming Programme</strong></a> over the next two weeks will be conducted online to avoid large gatherings, but certain elements, which can be carried out within the confines of the COVID-19 regulations, will continue in person. </p><p>One of the main events that had to be reimagined this year was the official welcoming, which usually sees thousands of students and their families gather at the Danie Craven Stadium for the official Welcome Event. This year, students will have the opportunity to visit the stadium when they participate in a flag planting. To avoid crowding, students will have the opportunity to visit the stadium and plant a welcome flag.</p><p>Another key welcoming moment will take place on Thursday evening, when students will participate in the dream walk in Victoria Street. This initiative began three years ago, and sees students pass underneath a banner hanging over Victoria Street, which symbolically marks the very moment that they start their academic journey at SU. Students will also get the opportunity to attach a card with their hand-written dreams on one of the trees lining Victoria Street. </p><p>Students will walk in groups of roughly 50 down Victoria Street. Later that evening, the welcoming speech of Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, will be released on social media.</p><p>Mr Pieter Kloppers, Director: Centre for Student Communities and coordinator of the Welcoming Programme, says many of the welcoming activities will take place online together with key experiences such as the dream walk and planting of flags to lay the foundation for the start of their academic journey. This will remind them of their collective effort in being academically successful and thus plays an important role in achieving academic success.</p><p>“There are two things that we need to help new students with. It is essential that they clear up the uncertainty of where they fit in socially in this new phase of their life; secondly, they need to find an inner confidence that they are up to the academic task and that support exists to help them succeed," says Kloppers.</p><p>For example, with the planting of the flags, the newcomers will symbolically claim their place at SU. It means they have a space to transform, grow and influence, says Kloppers.</p><p>The Welcoming Programme is on the University's website, <a href="/"></a>. The full week's welcoming programme and information on among others the registration schedule, personal safety, the library, free writing advice and faculties' welcoming programmes are available <a href="/english/welcome/Pages/default.aspx"><strong>here</strong></a>.   </p><p>​ </p><p>​<br></p>
Top matriculants of 2020 to study at SU matriculants of 2020 to study at SUCorporate Communication and Marketing/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking [Rozanne Engel]<p>​​​​<br></p><p>Stellenbosch University (SU) will once again become the home to a number of South Africa's top matric learners of 2020.</p><p>Reynhardt Buys from Pearson High school in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape is the top matriculant for 2020 and will commence his studies in Actuarial Science at SU this year.</p><p>Buys walked off with the top spot in the quintal level five section of the 2020 matric exams and scooped third place countrywide in mathematics. </p><p>According to Buys he did not follow any particular recipe for success, but instead made sure he would study immediately when he came home from school, which helped him to achieve the top spot.</p><p>“I'm really proud of myself and the hours of work that I put in. When all my friends were out partying, I'd be at home sitting with my books and doing the work diligently, so in that regard I'm very proud of myself," said Buys.</p><p>Another top matriculant who will make Maties her home this year is Sonica Roux from Hoërskool Outeniqua in George in the Western Cape. She took the third spot in the quintal level five section of the 2020 matric exams.</p><p>Roux wants to be a doctor and will be studying medicine at SU. “I've always been interested in medicine and helping other people. There has been a lot of developments in this field over the years, which is something that really excites me. I look forward to studying at one of the top universities in the country and cannot wait to meet the other students," says Roux.</p><p>Some of the other top matriculants on their way to SU is Daniel Alwyn Gouws from Hermanus High School. He is Western Cape's top matriculant in mathematics. Gouws will be studying Electronic Engineering. The top matriculants from the North West and Limpopo provinces will also be joining SU. Jana geyser from Potchefstroom in the Nort West will be styuding medicine, while Diana van Niekerk from Pietersburg Highschool in Polokwane, Limpopo, will be studying occupational therapy at SU. ​<br></p><p>Two top matric pupils from Durban, Ryan Wood and Ishan Jewnarain, who both received seven distinctions, will also commence their studies at SU this year. Wood, from Glenwood High School, will be studying medicine and Jewnarain, from Northwood School, will be studying Actuarial Science. <br><br></p><p>​<br></p>
Special people serving the students’ special needs people serving the students’ special needsHeather Osborn and the Neurodiversity Centre, Franschhoek<p>​​Special people serving the students’ special needs​</p><p>The administration and support units of Stellenbosch University (SU) are known for their professionalism, efficiency, and service excellence. However, to myself and my dear daughters with neurodevelopmental needs, one unit stands out above the rest. This is not only due to the very nature of that unit, but also to the staff members’ compassion, dedication, and willingness to go the extra mile in assisting students – such as my children – with special needs as well as their families. That unit is the Disability Unit, led by Dr Marcia Lyner-Cleophas. </p><p>Both my daughters are on the autism spectrum.​<br></p><p>Autism with its various manifestations is often very difficult to understand and support – not only because one cannot ‘see’ autism, but also because the needs of each person on the spectrum are different and unique to that individual. Also, so much real empathy is needed to understand the experiences of young people with autism conditions. What has been abundantly clear to us as parents is that our daughters have constantly required certain concessions and specific types of support to ensure that they reach their full potential and can actually participate in our world – the world of people without autism. <br></p><p>The transition from high school to university is somewhat frightening for all parents and children because the children become more independent and take the leap into an unfamiliar environment. This transition was especially difficult and nerve-racking for my two daughters and me, as I knew that, because of the incredible impacts of their autism, the odds that they would succeed in their studies without the right support, regardless of their levels of intelligence, were low.<br></p><p>On my arrival at the Disability Unit for the first time in 2016, I was overwhelmed by the warmth, respect, and professional care we were met with. We met with Dr Lyner-Cleophas of the Disability Unit to explain my eldest daughter’s needs and the assistance she would require during her time at SU. She was attentive and highly receptive to understanding my daughter’s needs and experience of learning, and asked questions to ensure that she could help my daughter in every way possible.<br></p><p>Prior to the start of the academic year a meeting was scheduled for my eldest, my husband and me with Dr Lyner-Cleophas, Prof Slattery (the head of the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science), and the course convener to discuss and determine what kind of special assistance my daughter would need to support her in obtaining her degree. ​<br></p><p>As this was done before classes had even started, my eldest daughter was fully prepared for her first year at university, thanks to the Disability Unit. She has now been studying for three-and-a-half years, after taking 2019 off to obtain additional Actuarial Society credits, and is still receiving amazing support. I use this word because it truly has been amazing. After many years of struggling to access authentic inclusion for my daughters, I have been and still am astounded at the real support and inclusion they have experienced here.<br></p><p>The Disability Unit also set up a separate orientation meeting for all special needs first-year students. During that session they were provided with the full particulars of the processes to be followed to ensure that they obtained the particular type of assistance they as individuals needed, for example, additional writing time during exams and tests, or separate exam facilities.<br></p><p>The following are a few of the support services offered by the Disability Unit that my daughters have used:<br></p><ul><li><p>Dr Lyner-Cleophas has an open-door policy so that there always is a safe space to go to when needed. My eldest used this safe space a few times when she had an anxiety attack or suffered from sensory overload. <br></p></li><li><p>Dr Lyner-Cleophas has always consistently and patiently engaged with my daughters’ psychologists from outside SU. <br></p></li></ul><ul><li><p>My daughters were given contact numbers to call at any time when they felt overwhelmed or needed assistance of any kind.<br></p></li></ul><ul><li><p>My eldest daughter struggles with sensory overload in large crowds and lecture halls, so she wears noise-cancelling headphones during lectures. The Unit informed all her lecturers beforehand that there would be a student with headphones in class, as well as the reason why, so that she would not get into trouble. </p></li></ul><p>They arranged for the chairperson of my eldest’s private students’ organisation to meet with her to discuss the orientation programme in detail so that she knew beforehand which of the sessions would be unsuitable for her to attend due to the size of the crowd and noise level that she would find unbearable. In fact, they came to meet her at our home (we live in Stellenbosch), and gave her the particulars of people to connect with during orientation, as well as people whom she could contact during her first weeks at university if she got lost on campus or needed any support.</p><p>​The most recent example of the assistance provided by the Disability Unit was during the Covid-19 lockdown. My eldest daughter was extremely anxious and was struggling to work on her mini-thesis along with a large year module. They organised a Skype meeting for her with her course convener to explain the project in more depth, as her executive dysfunction was causing intense stress. In addition to this, Dr Lyner-Cleophas set up a Zoom meeting with my daughter to check how she was managing under the stressors of the pandemic, and realised that her anxiety level was extremely high (which basically blocks people on the autism spectrum from functioning on any level). Dr Lyner-Cleophas accordingly suggested that she focus on her mini-thesis and that she complete part of her studies in her second honours year, and guided her on what she needed to do to apply for this change to be accepted and implemented. After her meeting with Dr Lyner-Cleophas, my daughter said that she felt as if she could breathe again. I am profoundly grateful for the extent to which this has increased my daughter’s optimism and given her hope for the future. </p><p>Moreover, the sudden environmental change caused both my daughters to experience high levels of stress, and the Unit provided financial assistance so that they could each attend two intervention sessions a week at the Neurodiversity Centre, which specialises in neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disabilities and conditions. <br></p><p>My youngest daughter’s university career started in 2020, and she has received the same amount of support as her sister did, except with even more understanding of her autism, thanks to the UD having had a few more years of experience with the condition. One additional piece of guidance with which the Unit assisted us was in choosing a residence for her by informing her which residence was smaller and quieter and therefore the most suitable for our youngest with her auditory overload.<br></p><p>With the help of the Disability Unit, both my daughters are handling online learning well. They receive prompt responses and wonderful support at all times when needed. <br></p><p>The Unit also reached out to my youngest to check how she was handling online learning, so that they could support her if necessary. <br></p><p>Lastly, the Disability Unit has been extremely helpful by assisting my daughters with bursaries that corporate companies specifically award to students with special needs.</p><p>I would like to convey my sincere gratitude to these amazing people from the Disability Unit. May you always continue to assist and support those who need with such dedication. This is a unit that truly does what it was constituted to do, and it is my sincere wish that your work will receive the recognition it so richly deserves. <br></p><p>With deep gratitude and respect. <br></p><p>A grateful mother.<br></p>
SU conference explores experiential learning conference explores experiential learningCorporate Communication and Marketing Division: Daniel Bugan<p>​World-renowned subject-matter experts and knowledge creators in the field of experiential education and social justice recently participated in the 2020 Stellenbosch University Experiential Education Conference.<br></p><p>The virtual conference, themed Experiential Education as Pedagogy for Social Justice: praxis and practice for shaping 21st century global citizen-leaders, explored emerging trends and transitions in the higher education experiential education domain and the intersections thereof with social justice and the formation of the global citizen-leader. Held over two days, from 10–11 November, the conference offered participants access to master classes, keynote addresses and academic paper presentations.</p><p>In his opening address, Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of SU, said he found the theme of the conference most apt.</p><p>“The first part asks us to view experiential education as a pedagogy for social justice. This emphasis is highly relevant in light of the Coronavirus pandemic which has sharply exposed societal fault lines all over the world.</p><p>“The second part of the theme calls attention to our role as educators in shaping 21st  century global citizen leaders. This resonates with our stance here at SU. We do not just want to deliver graduates who are sought after in the workplace; we also aim to deliver engaged citizens and responsible leaders who are willing to use their expertise to serve society.</p><p>“We aspire to have a positive impact on the well-being of our town, region, country and continent with a global reach. And to do that, we do not only seek to influence and change the world around us but also ourselves. Experiential education is the key to this."</p><p>The keynote address was presented by SU Academics Dr Choice Makhetha, senior director: Division Student Affairs and Prof Thuli Madonsela, Social Justice Chair and Law Trust Chair in Social Justice. Their talk was entitled Emerging Social Justice Frameworks in Higher Education.</p><p>According to Makhetha the #Feesmustfall Movement in 2015/16 brought many social justice issues to the surface and students demanded that they be addressed with great urgency. Some of these issues include:</p><p><em>Gender-based violence (GBV):</em> Students took it upon themselves to ensure that GBV was taken seriously and plans were put into place to address these challenges. The value is in how the process unfolded and real experiential learning happened.</p><p><em>The missing middle:</em> They are students who are considered “not poor enough and not rich enough" to be supported financially through government funding. The discussions started with the Department of Higher Education and Training in 2016. Debates continued at Universities South Africa (USAf) and also at individual universities to try and come up with a solution.</p><p><em>Institutional culture:</em> Institutional culture is shaped and influenced by practices within the institution, including subtle patterns that form through habit and end up accepted as part of the institution's culture. This can be destructive and detrimental to the envisaged positive transformative student experience.</p><p><em>Decolonisation and curriculum transformation:</em> #Feesmustfall and other movements reignited a focus on decolonisation in general, and particularly curriculum transformation.</p><p><em>Mental health and substance abuse: </em>Students recognised the level of pressures on their lives, including socioeconomic and academic matters, and they raised the concern with regard to the level of psychosocial support available within the higher education sector.</p><p> Said Makhetha, “It is amazing how students can actually change society when they are intentional and courageous enough to drive change. We in higher education have seen how young people challenge institutions to make a change in different ways."</p><p> She believes that for any learning to last and be engrained in one's system, the teaching has to be by “walking the talk", especially beyond the classroom where involvement of students is voluntary.</p><p> “Experiential education is a powerful tool and through it lessons are deeply engrained. It is now very clear that it's important to lead and teach by example, while learning from experiences," Makhetha said.</p><p>Madonsela said she has an issue with the kind of experiential learning that students experienced through video games, such as Warcraft, where they become conditioned to fight injustice wherever they see it.</p><p>“The problem with this kind of experiential learning is that it gives them a skewed perception of justice, where everything goes and where whatever gets destroyed in the process is just collateral damage, “ she said.​<br><br></p>