Stellenbosch University is home to an academic community of some 28 000 students (including more than 3 000 foreign students) as well as just under 3 000 permanent staff members (including 939 academic staff) on five different campuses. The historical oak-lined university town amongst the Boland Mountains in the winelands of the Western Cape creates a unique campus atmosphere, which attracts local and foreign students alike. On the main campus, paved walkways wind between campus buildings – some dating from previous centuries; others just a few years old. Architecture from various eras attests to the sound academic foundation and establishment of an institution of excellence. This, together with the scenic beauty of the area; state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly facilities and technology, as well as visionary thinking about the creation of a sustainable 21st-century institution, makes for the unique character of Stellenbosch University.
Academic excellence and innovation
Stellenbosch University (SU) is among South Africa's leading tertiary institutions based on research output, student pass rates and rated scientists, and is recognised internationally as an academic institution of excellence. This is confirmed by two world university rankings after SU was included in the Times Higher Education and QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) world rankings in 2012, for the second consecutive year. In 2011 the University was also listed on the Leiden rankings, and in 2012 SU was named the leading African University by the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities which ranks universities according to their web presence.
SU also boasts the second-highest number of scientists in South Africa who have been ranked by the National Research Foundation (NRF) – 306 in 2012. With 18 research chairs under the NRF South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChi), the University is regarded as a leader in the fields of biomedical tuberculosis research and management, wine biotechnology, animal sciences and mathematical biosciences. Another SARChi chair, in the field of invasion biology, is shared between SU and the University of Venda. This constitutes but one of SU's many partnerships, both local and international. As preferred research partner, SU also participates in various international academic networks.
With achievements such as an 85% first-year pass rate, the conferment of 130 doctorates in 2012 and having been the first African institution to host a Berlin open-access conference, as well as its proven research expertise, SU certainly is one of Africa's leading institutions. However, what makes the University distinctly different as an academic institution is its conscious decision to utilise its expertise for the benefit of society at large. This science-for-society approach is reflected in SU's HOPE Project, a campus-wide initiative through which the University uses its core business – teaching and learning, research, and community interaction – in search of sustainable solutions to some of South Africa and Africa's greatest challenges. In this way, SU promotes five selected development themes derived from the international development agenda, aimed at improving people's lives by eradicating poverty, promoting human dignity and health, promoting democracy and human rights, promoting safety and security, and promoting a sustainable environment and a competitive industry.
Faculties and campuses
SU has ten faculties: AgriSciences, Economic and Management Sciences, Medicine and Health Sciences, Engineering, Military Sciences, Arts and Social Sciences, Science, Education, Law and Theology.
The main campus in the picturesque university town of Stellenbosch in the heart of the Western Cape winelands is quite an attraction for students. Stellenbosch is situated about 50 km from Cape Town and just 30 km from Cape Town International Airport.
Eight faculties are on the main campus, with the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences situated on Tygerberg campus adjacent to the Tygerberg academic hospital, and the Faculty of Military Sciences – the only one of its kind in South Africa and one of only two in Africa – based at the South African Defence Force Military Academy in Saldanha. The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) and other postgraduate business and planning programmes of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences are located on the Bellville Park campus.
The fifth SU campus, in Worcester, was officially opened in 2012 with the launch of the Ukwanda Rural Clinical School of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Here, medical and related health sciences students have the opportunity to complete their clinical training on a rural platform. This is yet another example of SU's pioneering work in the field of academic innovation. Each year, the campus also houses a new group of school-leavers who participate in Stellenbosch University's Science and Mathematics bridging programme (SciMathUS). The programme offers students from educationally disadvantaged communities the opportunity to gain access to higher education.
Vibrant student communities
SU is known as a residential campus with an active residential life, which makes residence placement sough-after among students. As the residence demand far exceeds supply, and in line with new learning needs, SU is in the process of converting its Stellenbosch campus into an integrated learning and living space. Residences and private wards are grouped into clusters, each with its own cluster hub, where residence and day students are able to study, meet and socialise. With the construction of new buildings and the repurposing of existing buildings, student-centred facilities are created to enable students to conduct group work, study and gain access to the University's electronic networks.
SU's graduates are sough-after in the workplace. However, the University also aims to deliver engaged citizens and responsible leaders, who are willing to use their expertise and skills to serve society. Therefore, students are encouraged to engage with the community through MAD² (Making A Decision 2 Make A Difference) and Matie Community Service as well as service learning and community interaction within their respective disciplines. Further opportunities for self-improvement are offered by MFM 92.6, the University's community radio station; a wide variety of student associations and sporting codes, the Students' Representative Council, house committees and the Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert Institute for Student Leadership Development.
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