Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University:

Stellenbosch University (SU) is firmly committed to the pursuit of knowledge, research and innovation, in service of society. We provide a world-class centre for learning and development, which is globally relevant, yet rooted in the upliftment and transformation of our local communities. Our actions are guided by key values and attributes, and enabled by outstanding staff and students, sound operating systems and a deep sense of purpose​.

SU is home to an academic community of more than 32 500 students, including more than 3 700 international students from 104 countries. SU has 4 658 permanent and fixed-term contract staff members, including 1 393 academics.

Our ten faculties (AgriSciences, Arts and Social Sciences, Economic and Management Sciences, Education, Engineering, Law, Medicine and Health Sciences, Military Science, Science, and Theology) as well as the School for Climate Studies, the School for Data Science and Computational Thinking and the Stellenbosch Business School are located across five campuses in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

According to official figures of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) released in 2022, SU is among South Africa’s top three research-intensive universities, both per capita and in terms of total research output. 

SU now boast a total of 20 A-rated researchers – our highest number to date – having received nine new A-ratings in the 2021 rating round.

We host 44 research chairs – 23 as part of the DSI-NRF SARChI programme and 21 endowed or industry-funded chairs. In 2012, that number was 16. Research chairs make a very significant contribution to the research outputs, impact and income of SU as a thriving research-intensive institution.

The number of postdoctoral fellows has grown from 154 in 2012 to more than 340 registered postdoctoral research fellows in 2022.

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SU is cementing its reputation as a world-class institution. Over the past few years, SU has been consistently ranked among the best tertiary institutions globally on the QS World University Rankings by Subject, the Times Higher Education World University Subject Rankings, and the Shanghai Ranking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects. These rankings all use different methodologies and indicators to determine universities’ position on their rankings.

According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, SU is one of the top 300 universities in the world, and 24th on the 2022 Times Higher Education Emerging Economies Ranking. It also features among the world’s elite institutions in 20 of the 54 subjects featured in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject for 2023. SU was also included in the 2022 CWTS Leiden Ranking, which measures the scientific performance of 1 318 major universities worldwide.

The 2023 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject were released on Wednesday 22 March 2023. For the 2023 edition, 1 597 institutions were ranked across 54 subjects in five broad subject areas. SU improved its standing in four of the five broad subject areas. It achieved a top 250 spot in life sciences and medicine and is now ranked in the top 350 in arts and humanities, top 450 in engineering and technology, top 400 in social sciences and management, and top 500 in natural sciences.

As far as specific subject categories are concerned, SU improved its global position in environmental sciences and medicine by moving into the top 250. It is the leading university in South Africa in agriculture and forestry (1st in Africa and 74th in the world) and theology, divinity and religious studies, and development studies (both in the top 100), chemical engineering (top 300) and mechanical, aeronautical and manufacturing engineering (top 350).

For a second year in a row, SU is ranked number one in South Africa in agriculture and forestry and theology, divinity and religious studies, and second in education (top 350), pharmacy and pharmacology (top 300), business and management studies (top 500), psychology (top 330), biological sciences (top 350), and electrical and electronic engineering (top 450)​. SU also moved into second position in English language and literature (top 250) after having finished third in 2022. In accounting and finance, SU is among the top 330 institutions globally.

Strategy and Values

We used the commemoration of the University’s centenary in 2018 not only to reflect on the past, but also to chart our path into the future.

The University’s vision and strategy is guided by Vision 2040 and Strategic F​ramework 2019-2024. This is divided into Vision 2040 (mission, values, attributes and enablers) and the Strategic Framework: 2019-2024 (which identifies six core strategic t​hemes to enable our vision for 2040).​

Vision 2040 and the SU Strategic Framework 2019–2024 guide us towards being a thriving university, providing a transformative student experience, fostering purposeful partnerships and inclusive networks, promoting networked and collaborative teaching and learning, conducting research for impact, and being an employer of choice.

The University’s institutional values of excellence, compassion, equity, accountability and respect guide our efforts in this regard.

As an institution, our complex history is marked by both great academic achievements and valuable lessons. These form the backdrop to our pursuit of an integrated, transformed, multilingual and multicultural academic community, as rich in diversity as our country and our continent, where we celebrate critical thinking, promote debate, and remain committed to democracy, human rights and social justice.

Code 2040, an integrated code of ethics with the aim to govern conduct at SU, was approved by Council in November 2022. Since one of the key components of Vision 2040 is SU’s values and values directly impact conduct, Code 2040 seeks to translate SU’s institutional values into a set of high-level guidelines that govern the conduct of our students, staff and statutory bodies.

The essence of Code 2040 is the pledge of our university, which reads: As stakeholders of SU, we commit ourselves to ethical behaviour. Specifically, we pledge:

  • To conduct our work in a manner that demonstrates excellence;
  • To always treat our stakeholders equitably, and with respect and compassion; and
  • To be accountable for the execution and consequences of all our actions.
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Research and Research Outputs

SU has five strategic research areas that drive its institutional research agenda: The natural environment; health and human security; social justice and development; human creativity and social innovation; and systems and technologies for the future. These areas were developed against the background of the United Nation’s Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the African Union’s Agenda 2063 goals, the national goals and new growth strategy of government and the National Development plan.

For the 2020-publication year outputs SU received the highest number of book publications (445 subsidy units), the second highest number of conference proceedings (74, 6 subsidy units) and the third highest per-capita research output (1,82). SU was placed third in terms of overall institutional units received for this output year. This includes journal articles, books, chapters in books and conference proceedings.

A record number of journal articles had once been submitted for the 2022-publication year. (This growth can in part be attributed to a change in DHET policy in 2015 whereby more journal indexes were regarded as accredited, but moreover to SU researchers’ commitment to contribute to knowledge production in their respective areas of research. Institutionally, SU is also committed to continuously support and incentivise research outputs through various initiatives, such as the SOS funding scheme.

SU is also one of the most successful institutions nationally in terms of number of creative outputs submitted and subsidy awarded. According to the outcome of the 2019 submission to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), SU came first nationally with a total of 87 submissions and 53.6 units received, whilst for the 2020 submissions we again submitted the highest number of submissions (a total of 39), with 34.45 units awarded.

The process is guided by the DHET policy on the evaluation of recognition of creative outputs and innovations. The purpose of this policy, announced by the DHET in 2018, is to recognise and reward quality creative outputs and innovations produced by SA public higher education institutions. SU’s submissions has included a vast variety of outputs – from musical compositions to sculptures, jewellery design and award-winning collections of poetry.

NRF Ratings

The NRF rating system is a benchmarking system whereby individuals who exemplify the highest standards of research, as well as those demonstrating strong potential as researchers, are identified by an extensive network of South African and international peer reviewers. Ratings are based on the quality and impact of recent research outputs (over an eight-year period).

SU supports the NRF rating system – not only as a qualitative, peer-reviewed measure of excellence, but also as a gateway to selected competitive NRF funding programmes. The NRF rating programme is managed by the DRD, that offers a thorough internal review process to support researchers in the preparation of their rating applications. This includes the assignment of a mentor to each applicant to assist with making applications submission ready.

At the end of 2022, SU had 493 rated researchers. Nationally, SU has the third highest number of rated researchers, after the University of Pretoria and the University of Cape Town, respectively. Since 2017, there has been a steady increase the number of rated researchers at SU. There has been a 14% growth rate in rated researchers between 2017 and 2022.

SU received nine new A-ratings in 2022. A-rated researchers are unequivocally recognised by their peers as leading international scholars in their respective fields for the high quality and impact of recent research outputs. Furthermore, we have recorded our highest number of A-rated researchers, a total of 20. SU now has the third highest number of A-rated researchers in South Africa.

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SU International

SU’s international office developed from humble beginnings in 1993 to a multidimensional entity with a global reach through its several specialised centres and collaborations. SU is member of at least 34 networks globally, more than 12 in Africa and more than 22 beyond Africa. SU has 327 partner institutions in 64 countries on six continents.

The University has awarded more than 40 joint PhD degrees with 28 institutions, as well as over 60 double Master’s degrees with 11 institutions. 

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chair in Intercultural Competences has been awarded to SU. An SU affiliated distinguished fellow from the USA, Dr Darla Deardorff, will be the Chairholder with Co-Chairholder Prof Sarah Howie, Director: Africa Centre for Scholarship in SU International, where the Chair will be housed.

The UNESCO Chair, awarded for a four-year period from 2023 to 2027, forms part of the global UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme. This programme involves a network of some 900 institutions in over 120 countries and promotes international inter-university cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge-sharing and collaborative work in education, the natural and social sciences, culture and communication.

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