Stellenbosch University
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SU graduates well equipped for the future
Author: Corporate Communication/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Rozanne Engel]
Published: 06/12/2019


December is an exciting time at Stellenbosch University (SU): It is the month of graduation! In the midst of this excitement, graduates are also making important decisions about their future: Are they going to study further? Are they going to enter the world of work? Are they going to start their own business? Are they going to travel and explore the word? Quite a few may possibly also be worried about their future: Are they going to find a job?  Did their studies prepare them well enough for the world of work? Are their qualification relevant to the job they have secured? 

SU launched its Graduate Destination Survey (GDS) in 2017 to provide the institution with insights about its graduates and to try to find answers to these and other questions on a broad and institutional level. The survey has the additional goal of informing the institution about possible interventions to better equip its graduates for the world of work, specifically the correct mix of employability skills.

The survey was fine-tuned over the last couple of years and is administered annually during the December and March/April graduation ceremonies. Approximately 9 000 students graduate annually from SU and they all receive an invitation to take part in the GDS.

A total of 2 253 of the 2018 graduates completed the survey. Some of the interesting insights from the 2018 survey are:

  • 37% of graduates have already secured a job at the time of graduation and will be entering the world of work;
  • 38% of graduates intend to continue with their studies;
  • 3% of graduates had already started their own business or would be starting their own business; and
  • of the remaining 22%, 2% will be travelling, 16% will be job-hunting and 4% are not yet sure of their plans for the future.

Even at graduation, and thus very shortly after they have actually learnt that they were successful, the majority of SU graduates, therefore, appear to be confident that they are well equipped for their future.

According to Marquard Timmey from the Unit for Graduand Career Services at the Centre for Student Counselling and Development at SU, “data from the GDS should constructively inform interventions from faculty and support services, especially with regards to the co-curricular offering and how it can help to equip SU graduates with valuable employability skills. The Unit for Graduand Career Services is aware of the fact that graduate destination data is increasingly been used as a catalyst for university-wide discussions on how all internal and external stakeholders can actively contribute to supporting the career readiness of SU graduates."

Some other interesting findings of the GDS provide valuable additional perspectives:

  • Approximately 75% of the students had work experience by the time they graduated.
  • Around 81% of students who will continue with further studies, will do so at SU.
  • About 52% of the students who will be working immediately after graduation will be working in the private sector, while 25% secured a job in government departments and 11% found work in the government education sector.
  • Networking with friends, family or acquaintances was the most prominent way graduates utilised to get a job – it was closely followed by internet and electronic media.
  • Approximate 85% of graduates will be working in South Africa, 10% elsewhere in Africa and 5% overseas.
  • Lastly, just more than eight out of 10 graduates who have already secured a job by graduation indicated that their future job definitely had a strong link with their qualification.

The graduates of 2019 are completing the survey at the moment. The results will be processed and published after the rest of the 2019 class has graduated in March/April 2020. Follow-up studies are, according to Timmey, also planned for the future to determine how sought after graduates from SU really are in the workplace. 

For more information about the Graduate Destination Survey, contact  

December graduates can take the latest survey here: