In a recent video message to stakeholders, Stellenbosch University (SU) Rector and Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof Wim de Villiers looks back on 2018, the institution's historic Centenary year. Here are his top ten highlights:
- SU produces approximately 10% of all doctorates in the country (305 in the 2017 academic year, concluded in March 2018), and South Africa has 26 public universities.
- On average, 8 out of 10 students at SU complete their studies, and the institution's first-year dropout rate is only 1 out of 10 – which makes it the top performer in the country, according to the Department of Higher Education and Training.
- Thanks to SU's solid academic reputation, it attract top students. Eight out of ten newcomer first-years join Maties with a Grade 12 average of more than 70%.
- The University is also known for its extracurricular activities. In 2018, Matie rugby teams won multiple trophies, and the SU Choir was once again crowned world champion in the amateur category.
- SU continues to make a positive contribution to society. For instance, its Law Clinic was this year honoured with an achievement award for aiding marginalised communities. And in a project outside Grabouw, SU students conducted inspections to improve the quality of affordable housing.
- This year, the University paid out R500 million in undergraduate bursaries and loans, of which a fifth came from its own main budget. Its graduation ceremonies would have been half their size without this financial assistance. “Thank you very much to everyone who opens doors for students, and even helps them put food on the table," Prof De Villiers said. So far, over R1 million have been raised with SU students' Move4Food campaign, which has now been extended to April 2019.
- SU's Campus Renewal Project is making steady progress. Construction of the Jan Mouton Learning Centre is proceeding well, and the University's refurbished theatre complex – now named after the award-winning poet and playwright Adam Small – has been reopened.
- The University commemorated its Centenary this year. The institution celebrated many highlights, but have also taken a number of lessons from its past so that the university community can move forward together. “To each and every student, staff member, alum, donor and friend of the University, thank you for your valuable contribution."
- SU adopted a new vision and strategic framework in 2018, which will now guide it into the future. “We are on course to becoming Africa's leading research-intensive university, globally recognised as excellent, inclusive and innovative, where we advance knowledge in service of society."
- Next year, SU will be establishing a multidisciplinary school for data science. “It is the right thing to do as the Fourth Industrial Revolution changes not only the world of work, but also our work in the knowledge sector."
The VC concludes his message: “Good luck with the final duties of 2018 – wherever you may find yourself in the world. Enjoy the upcoming break over the festive season, and everything of the best for 2019! We are looking forward to the first year of SU's second century."