Stellenbosch University
Welcome to Stellenbosch University
SU support staff benchmark with European peers
Author: Lina Hörügel and Amanda Tongha
Published: 24/10/2018

​In July 2018, the late President Nelson Mandela would have celebrated his 100th birthday, along with Stellenbosch University (SU) commemorating its Centenary this year.

On 11 November 1987, Madiba received an honorary doctorate from Karl-Marx-University, now known as Leipzig University (LU). Oliver Tambo, then President of the African National Congress, received the degree on Mandela's behalf, as the former statesman was still imprisoned.

On 11 October this year, a copy of the honorary doctorate was presented to Mr Phumelele Stone Sizani, South African Ambassador to Germany, at an event held at LU celebrating a strategic partnership between SU and the German institution. The ceremony coincided with a visit by seven SU staff members participating in the Support Staff Development Programme recently launched by SU International.

ʺOne can feel about this honorary degree as one wishes but no one will question that, when someone deserves an honorary doctorate, it is Nelson Mandela,ʺ Dr Sven Poller, Director of the Office for International Academics at LU, told about 45 students and staff from the University, including the SU staff members, attending the event. Dr Poller said that the decision to present a copy of the doctorate to Ambassador Sizani was a consequence of the visit of the SU support staff delegation.

The seven staff members, representative of Human Resources, Student Affairs, SU International and several faculties, spent three days at LU attending workshops and individual meetings. Before their visit to LU, they met with peers at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, rounding off a week-long benchmark visit to partner institutions in Europe.

Ms Kathryn Wirth, Coordinator: Blended Learning at the Faculty of AgriSciences at SU, summarised her talks with Leipzig colleagues in e-learning service as follows: ʺOne of the great parts about the job shadowing was that we both, SU and LU, use Moodle as the e-learning platform. It was very beneficial to see how the same software is being used quite differently at the moment and what opportunities there are to improve that.ʺ

Ms Lidia du Plessis, Coordinator: Staff Mobility Programmes and Partnership Projects at SU International, said that the new programme complements other staff mobility programmes offered to both academic and support staff.

“We realise that there is an enormous need among support staff for exposure to such an opportunity. Through the programme, we would like to promote the concept of comprehensive internationalisation within the wider university environment, giving more staff members the chance to enjoy such opportunities."

In November, Leipzig colleagues will visit Stellenbosch for a joint workshop on the theme Knowledge societies in Africa.

Photo: Mr Phumelele Stone Sizani (centre) with SU staff members at Leipzig University