Stellenbosch University’s (SU) vision is to be an inclusive, innovative, and future focused institution: a place of discovery and excellence where both staff and students are thought leaders in advancing knowledge in the service of all stakeholders. Its strategic priorities moving into the future are to prioritise internationalisation, to broaden access, to sustain our momentum on excellence, to enhance our societal impact and to realise systemic transformation.
Stellenbosch University is living out its vision in its continuous pursuit of excellence and aims to remain at the forefront of its chosen focal areas, by gaining national and international standing on the basis of its research outputs, by being relevant to societal needs, and by being enterprising, innovative and self-renewing.
At the forefront of Stellenbosch University’s research excellence and global engagement are seven Centres of Excellence (CoEs) of which four are national chairs established by the National Department of Science and Technology (DST).The CoEs are physical or virtual centres of research that concentrate existing research excellence and capacity and resources to enable researchers to collaborate across disciplines and institutions on long-term projects that are locally relevant and internationally competitive in order to enhance the pursuit of research excellence and capacity development. The DST CoEs at Stellenbosch University are the Centre for Invasion Biology (CIB); the Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA); the Centre for Biomedical TB Research (CBTBR) and the Centre for Scientometrics and Science Policy. The other three national centres include the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRES); the AU/NEPAD Networks of Water Centres of Excellence and the National Institute for Theoretical Physics (NIThep).
The university was awarded five new Research Chairs in 2015 through the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) of the National Research Foundation (NRF), funded by the DST. The research chairs hosted by Stellenbosch University are positioned strategically around specific research areas where Stellenbosch University is seen as a leader in the field and where existing resources and capacity exist for a focused knowledge and human resource intervention. The aim of the initiative is to make South Africa competitive in the international knowledge economy based on its existing and potential strengths. The total number of SARChI Chairs at Stellenbosch University currently stands at 26.
Other research chairs hosted by Stellenbosch University are the Harry Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law; the SANRAL (South African Roads Agency Limited) Chair in Pavement Engineering; the Anton Mostert Chair of Intellectual Property; the Agricol Chair in Agronomy; the ERWAT Research Chair in Wastewater Management and the Scater Solar Chair in Photovoltaic (PV) Systems.
Stellenbosch University has the second highest number of NRF-rated scientists in the country, totalling 372 in 2015, including 12 A-rated researchers who are regarded as world leaders in their respective fields of research. According to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), Stellenbosch University is nationally the most productive university in terms of research publications per capita (for the second year in a row) and weighted research outputs (research publications, masters and doctoral degrees awarded) per capita (for the seventh year in a row). Recently, Stellenbosch University again improved its position on the Times Higher Education (THE) ranking of universities in the BRICS countries and other emerging economies. For 2016, the institution is ranked 11th out of 200 universities in 48 countries. On the QS rankings, Stellenbosch University is ranked #302 globally.