Stellenbosch University

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Stellenbosch University
Universiteit Stellenbosch
Stellenbosch University Crest.png
Motto(Latin) Pectora roborant cultus recti
Motto in English
A sound education strengthens the spirit
EndowmentZAR 1,483.99 million[1]
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,
South Africa (SA)

33°55′58″S 18°51′51″E / 33.93278°S 18.86417°E / -33.93278; 18.86417Coordinates: 33°55′58″S 18°51′51″E / 33.93278°S 18.86417°E / -33.93278; 18.86417
Campus2 suburban and 2 urban
AffiliationsAAU, ACU, CHEC, HESA, IAU
Stellenbosch 100 year logo.png

Stellenbosch University (Afrikaans: Universiteit Stellenbosch) is a public research university situated in Stellenbosch, a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Stellenbosch is the oldest university in South Africa and the oldest extant university in Sub-Saharan Africa together with the University of Cape Town which received full university status on the same day in 1918.[citation needed] Stellenbosch University (abbreviated as SU) designed and manufactured Africa's first microsatellite, SUNSAT, launched in 1999.[5]

Stellenbosch University was the first African university to sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.[6]

The students of Stellenbosch University are nicknamed "Maties". The term probably arises from the Afrikaans word "tamatie" (meaning tomato, and referring to the maroon sport uniforms and blazer colour).[citation needed] An alternative theory is that the term comes from the Afrikaans colloquialism maat (meaning "buddy" or "mate") originally used diminutively ("maatjie") by the students of the University of Cape Town's precursor, the South African College.[7]


The Ou Hoofgebou (Former Main Administration building, now the Law Faculty) on Stellenbosch University campus
Stellenbosch University Museum

The origin of the university can be traced back to the Stellenbosch Gymnasium, which was founded in 1864 and opened on 1 March 1866.[citation needed] The first five students matriculated in 1870, but capacity did not initially exist for any tertiary education.[citation needed] However, in the 1870s the Cape Colony's first locally elected government took office and prioritised education.[citation needed] In 1873, four of the five 1870 matriculates became the institution's first graduates by attaining the "Second Class Certificate" through distance learning, and the gymnasium's student numbers rose to over a hundred.[citation needed]

In 1874, a series of government acts provided for colleges and universities, with generous subsidies and staff.[citation needed] A personal intervention by the Prime Minister in the same year ensured that Stellenbosch qualified, after initially being allocated to be purely a secondary school.[citation needed] Later in 1874, the institution acquired its first Professor and in the coming few years its capacity and staff grew rapidly.[citation needed] Its first academic senate was constituted at the beginning of 1876, when several new premises were also acquired.[citation needed] The first MA degree (in Stellenbosch and in South Africa) was completed in 1878, and also in that year, the Gymnasium's first four female students were enrolled.[8] [9] The institution became the Stellenbosch College in 1881 and was located at the current Arts Department. In 1887 this college was renamed Victoria College; when it acquired university status on 2 April 1918 it was renamed once again, to Stellenbosch University.[10] Initially only one university was planned for the Cape but after the government was visited by a delegation from the Victoria College, it was decided to allow the college to be a university if it could raise £100,000.[11]: 290–1  Jannie Marais, a wealthy Stellenbosch farmer, bequeathed the money required before his death in 1915.[11]: 291  There were certain conditions to his gift which included Dutch/Afrikaans having equal status to English and that the lecturers teach at least half their lectures in Dutch/Afrikaans. By 1930, very little, if any, tuition was in English.[11]: 291 

In December 2014, specialists at the university performed the first successful penis transplantation on a 21-year-old man.[12]


Although the university was originally named the University of Stellenbosch (Afrikaans: Universiteit van Stellenbosch), it nowadays uses two forms: the English version Stellenbosch University (abbreviated SU) and the Afrikaans version Universiteit Stellenbosch (abbreviated US).[13][14] In all its official documents, such as degree certificates, as well as the University Crest, both the English "University of Stellenbosch" and the Afrikaans "Universiteit van Stellenbosch" are used.[citation needed]


University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World[15]401-500
QS World[16]361
THE World[17]351-400
Regional – Overall
QS BRICS[18]51
THE Africa[19]3

The university is one of only three public universities in the Western Cape and one of about 20 universities in the country.[citation needed]

In the latest edition of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Stellenbosch University was ranked in the 251-275 category in the world and third in Africa. Another reputable ranking system, QS World University Rankings recently ranked the university at 390 in the world and also third in Africa.[20]

The Leiden University ranked Stellenbosch 395th out of the top 500 universities worldwide on its CWTS Leiden Ranking list of 2013.[21] This list also ranked the university second in both South Africa and Africa, behind only the University of Cape Town.

Stellenbosch University consistently ranks in the top 200 worldwide in law, politics and geography.[citation needed]

Stellenbosch University is ranked in the top 100 worldwide in development studies, theology, agriculture and forestry.[22]

In 2012, Webometrics ranked Stellenbosch's web footprint 2nd largest in Africa, again behind the University of Cape Town.[23]

The University of Stellenbosch Business School's MBA program was ranked 65th out of 100 MBA programmes of the leading business schools in the world the Aspen Institute's 2011-12 edition of its Beyond Grey Pinstripes survey. The USB is also the only business school in South Africa, as well as the rest of the continent, to be included in the Top 100 list.[24]

The University of Stellenbosch Business School has triple accreditation (AMBA, EQUIS and AACSB accreditation) and is ranked second in Africa by Eduniversal. The University of Stellenbosch Business School is ranked in the top 100 worldwide in executive education by Financial Times.[25]


View over the "Red Square" of Stellenbosch University with the peak,"The Twins" beyond

Stellenbosch is located about 50 kilometres from Cape Town and is situated on the banks of the Eersterivier ("First River") in the famous wine-growing region and is encircled by picturesque mountains.[citation needed] Teaching at Stellenbosch University is divided between the main campus in Stellenbosch, the Tygerberg campus (where the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences is situated), the Bellville Park campus (where the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) is situated), and the Saldanha campus (housing the Faculty of Military Science at the Military Academy of the South African National Defence Force).[citation needed]


Stellenbosch University used to be a predominantly Afrikaans-medium university.[citation needed] However, as the student body became more diversified, pressure mounted for more classes in English.[citation needed]

Today, the university's Language Policy[26] promotes multilingualism as a means to increase equitable access for all students and staff. Afrikaans, English and Xhosa are used in academic, administrative, professional and social contexts, and classes are offered in Afrikaans and English.

Students are allowed to write their assignments, tests and examinations in English or Afrikaans.[citation needed] The language of tuition also varies depending on the faculty.[citation needed] The Faculty of Arts for example, is 40% English, so courses are lectured bilingually and the language of most handouts or prescribed material is determined by the student.[citation needed]

At postgraduate level the language of tuition is determined by the composition of the class.[citation needed] Most advanced postgraduate courses are conducted in English.[citation needed] According to the 2016 language profile of the university, 40.7% of its students stated Afrikaans as their home language, 46.1% stated English, 0.9% stated English and Afrikaans, and 3.1% of students stated isiXhosa as their home language.[27]

The language policy is still an ongoing issue for the University, since it is one of the very few tertiary institutions left in South Africa still offering tuition in Afrikaans.[28] It is situated in the Western Cape province, where 67% of the population have Afrikaans as home language, and the only one of four universities in the province to offer degree courses in Afrikaans. Due to this, it is held in high regard by the Afrikaner community.[citation needed]

The University annually hosts the SU Woordfees, a predominantly Afrikaans-language festival of the written and spoken word.[29]

Student profile[edit]

Stellenbosch University's student racial profile is as follows:[30]

Ethnic enrolment, 2016 Percentage Total
White 61.3% 18,907
Coloured 17.6% 5,443
Black 18.2% 5,629
Indian 2.8% 875
Total 100% 30,854

Faculties and schools[edit]

Wilgenhof Residence
Theological Seminary

Stellenbosch University consists of about 150 departments divided amongst 10 faculties.[citation needed] It also has more than 40 research (and other) institutions.[citation needed]

The faculties that are situated on the main campus are:[citation needed]

The faculties and schools that are not situated on the main campus are:[citation needed]

The Southern African node of the Pan-African University is based in South Africa and will concentrate on space sciences.[31] This decision was connected with South Africa's bid to host the Square Kilometre Array of radio telescopes. In September 2009 Jean-Pierre Ezin, African Union commissioner for science, said the node at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa was hoped to open in February 2010.[32] According to University World News, however, The PAU project continues in other regions although Southern Africa has been lagging behind.[33]

Facilities and services[edit]


The Stellenbosch University Library has collections scattered around the campus outside of the main facility, and all of which are catalogued on a computerised database, using the university's original mainframe, a UNIVAC.[citation needed] There are several other satellite libraries servicing the different faculties, including the Theology Library, Law Library and Tygerberg Medical Library.[citation needed]

Stellenbosch University also has a Conservatory, with two concert halls. The Conservatory is the home of the internationally acclaimed[34] Stellenbosch University Choir, who, along with being the oldest South African choir have received numerous awards overseas.[35]

The University also has a 430-seat theatre, known as the HB Thom Theatre and an open-air amphitheatre.[citation needed] Accompanying these facilities is the University's own Drama Department, under the guidance of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. The Department regularly puts on plays, dramas, productions, cabarets and musicals.[citation needed]

Botanical Garden – Bonsai Collection

The Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden is the oldest university botanical garden in South Africa.

The Langenhoven Students' Centre (Neelsie) houses the Student Representative Council, a food court, a cinema, a post office, a shopping centre, an advice office and all the student societies' offices.[citation needed] Student bands and various entertainment and activity promotions usually appear in the main food court during lunch hour.[citation needed]

The university has its own radio station known as MFM (Matie FM), situated in the Neelsie.[citation needed] It broadcasts a mix of music, news, entertainment and campus news over the entire Stellenbosch area at 92.6 FM.[citation needed]

The university also distributes regular publications, Die Matie (appearing every fortnight) for its students and Kampusnuus (appearing monthly) for its staff.[citation needed] An official yearbook, Stellenbosch Student, is published annually and presented to all graduating students. Matieland[36] is the name of the official alumni magazine. It is published twice a year and distributed to some 100 000 alumni and friends of the University.


Sports facilities for the more than 30 competitive and recreational sports that are supported by the university include Danie Craven Stadium, two large swimming pools (one under roof), the Coetzenburg Centre, a multi-purpose center for ceremonies and indoor sports, playing fields, including two artificial hockey fields, a gymnasium and a new football complex.[citation needed] The university offers several sports to its students. Some of them are Athletics, Bouldering, Badminton, Basketball, Canoeing, Cricket, Cross country running, Cycling, Fencing, Golf, Gymnastics, Field hockey, Judo, Kendo, Netball, Rowing, Rugby union, Soccer, Squash, Surfing, Swimming, Taekwondo, Tennis, Underwater hockey, Volleyball, Water Polo, Yachting.[citation needed]

Stellenbosch has served as a test site in 2006 for a set of proposed modifications to the rules of rugby union, commonly referred to as the Stellenbosch Laws.[citation needed]

Student housing[edit]

An aerial view of the Dagbreek student residence hall at Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch has 34 residence halls in configurations for women only, men only and mixed gender.[citation needed] Each residence is supervised by a resident head assisted by a House Committee of senior students.[citation needed] The House Committee assists students with security, maintenance, and social programs.[citation needed] Each first year student on campus gets access to a be-well mentor who assist them with their social-emotional transition from school to university.[citation needed] Each residence for undergrads incorporates a laundry room, a common living room and a dining hall where meals are provided for which students book beforehand on their student account.[citation needed]

The number of available rooms in university residences is limited, which requires some students to find private boarding.[citation needed] Students in private lodgings are assigned to one of 6 Private Student Organisations (PSO), also known as Private Wards.[citation needed] These PSO's give private students exposure to the same campus experience as students residing in residences.[citation needed] The oldest residence is Wilgenhof men's residence, established in 1903.[37]

The PSO wards are grouped into six clusters with nearby residences to form student communities (a seventh cluster is on the Tygerberg campus).[38] For each of these clusters, a hub facility is being built, of which two have already been completed, namely amaMaties and Wimbledon. In this way, day students can enjoy the same benefits as residence students, such as mentor support, meals and a well-appointed place to go to between classes.



Period Surname Name(s) Date of Birth Date of Death
1 1919-1925 Cillié Gabriël Gideon 10 September 1870 1 April 1958
1925-1934 None
2 1934-1955 Wilcocks Raymond William 23 January 1892 16 March 1967
3 1955-1970 Thom Hendrik Bernardus 31 December 1905 4 November 1983
4 1970-1979 de Villiers Jan Naude 17 August 1923
5 1979-1993 de Vries Michiel Josias 5 May 1933 5 July 2002
6 1993-2002 van Wyk Andreas Hercules 17 September 1941
7 2002-2007 Brink Chris 31 January 1951
8 2007-2014 Botman Hayman Russel 18 October 1953 28 June 2014
9 2014- de Villiers Willem Johan Simon 26 September 1959
Period Surname Name(s) Date of Birth Date of Death
1 1918-1919 Marais Johannes Izak 23 August 1848 27 August 1919
2 1919-1931 Vos Pieter Jacobus Gerhard 29 October 1842 31 October 1931
3 1931-1932 de Villiers Jacob Abraham Jeremias 14 December 1868 16 September 1937
4 1932-1939 Moorrees Adriaan 18 August 1855 17 November 1938
5 1939-1941 Kestell John Daniel 15 December 1854 9 February 1941
6 1941-1959 Malan Daniel Francois 22 May 1874 7 February 1959
7 1959-1968 Dönges Theophilus Ebenhaezer 8 March 1898 10 January 1968
8 1968-1983 Vorster Balthazar Johannes 13 December 1915 10 September 1983
9 1983-1983 Thom Hendrik Bernardus 31 December 1905 4 November 1983
10 1984-1988 Botha Pieter Willem 12 January 1916 31 October 2006
11 1988-1998 van der Horst Johannes Gerhardus 19 September 1919 23 April 2003
12 1998-2008 Botha Elizabeth 19 November 1930 16 November 2007
13 2008-2009 Slabbert Frederik Van Zyl 2 March 1940 14 May 2010
14 2009-2019 Rupert Johann Peter 1 June 1950
15 2019- Cameron Edwin 15 February 1953

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stellenbosch University Annual Report 2011 (PDF). University of Stellenbosch. p. 83. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Statistical Profile". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Error". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Meet Pokkel the Maties mascot" Archived 13 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Matie News, 18 February 2009
  5. ^ "SUNSAT - eoPortal Directory - Satellite Missions". Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  6. ^ Russel, Botman, H. (20 October 2010). "Signing of the Berlin Declaration by Prof Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the Stellenbosch University". hdl:10019.1/4828. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ "Stellenbosch University – SEC CERT". Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  8. ^ Smuts, Francois (1979). Stellenbosch. Three Centuries. Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch Town Council & Oude Meester Group. ISBN 978-0620039215.
  9. ^ Brümmer N.; Smith J.J.; Malherbe W.E. (1918). Gedenkboek van het Victoria-Kollege. Cape Town: Nationale Pers.
  10. ^ Nolundi (4 May 2017). "Stellenbosch University". South African History Online. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  11. ^ a b c Pretorius, Fransjohan (2014). A History of South Africa: From the Distant Past to the Present Day. Hatsfield, Pretoria: Protea Book House. ISBN 978-1-86919-908-1.
  12. ^ Gallagher, James (13 March 2015). "South Africans perform first 'successful' penis transplant". BBC News. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  13. ^ Archived 16 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Statute of Stellenbosch University". Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  15. ^ "ARWU World University Rankings 2017 - Academic Ranking of World Universities 2017 - Top 500 universities - Shanghai Ranking - 2017". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  16. ^ "Stellenbosch University". Top Universities. 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  17. ^ "Stellenbosch University". Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  18. ^ "QS World Universities- Brics".
  19. ^ "Best universities in Africa 2018". Times Higher Education World University Rankings. 3 October 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  20. ^ "QS World University Rankings". Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  21. ^ "CWTS Leiding Ranking 2013". Leiden University. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  22. ^ "QS Rankings - Stellenbosch University".
  23. ^ [1] Archived 21 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "MBA Degrees and Business Schools in South Africa". Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  25. ^ "USB rankings and accreditations". Archived from the original on 25 December 2017.
  26. ^ "Language at Stellenbosch University". Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  27. ^ "Statistiese Profiel 2016 - Tabel 6.xlsx". Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  28. ^ Arthur Cerf (20 August 2013). "Afrique du Sud : Stellenbosch, bastion de l'ombre de l'apartheid". Le Journal International (in French). Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  29. ^ "News - SU Woordfees launches its 2017 programme..." Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  30. ^ "Studente-inskrywings per jaar en bevolkingsgroep". Stellenbosch University Statistical Profile (in Afrikaans). Stellenbosch University. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  31. ^ Gilbert Nganga (4 July 2010). "Pan-African University close to starting". University World News. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
  32. ^ Linda Nordling (2 September 2009). "Pan-African University could launch early next year". SciDev. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
  33. ^ University World News, 22 November 2013, retrieved 3 May 2014
  34. ^ "World Rankings - INTERKULTUR". Archived from the original on 12 February 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  35. ^ [2] Archived 7 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ "Home". Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  37. ^ "Wilgenhof Manskoshuis". Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  38. ^ Smorenburg, Mathew. "Clusters". Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  39. ^ "Stellenbosch University 100 years". Stellenbosch University. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  40. ^ Stellenbosch University at the Mathematics Genealogy Project

External links[edit]