Digital Alumni Newsletter | Autumn 2020


Graduates urged to plough back

Graduates who were awarded qualifications during Stellenbosch University’s (SU) first virtual ceremony were reminded by SU Chancellor, retired Constitutional Court judge Justice Edwin Cameron, that the immense opportunities afforded to them come with certain responsibilities. This includes ploughing back into South Africa and the world, the gifts, the expertise and the opportunities that each obtained through their studies at SU. The cohort of 3 278 graduands followed a pre-recorded video, in which Justice Cameron awarded qualifications in absentia. Due to the local outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, a decision was made to cancel the March/April graduation ceremonies as a precautionary measure.   


Entrepreneurs hit hard by Coronavirus – ways to stay afloat

Seraj Toefy, Custodian of Entrepreneurship at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), says that according to the Small Business Association, the average cash safety net for small businesses is estimated to last only 27 days.


New collaboration will boost water and energy research in Africa

Germany's Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, one of Europe's leading applied research organisations, has joined forces with SU to address the water, energy and food security challenges facing southern Africa.

The newly established Fraunhofer Innovation Platform involves SU's Faculties of Engineering, Science and AgriSciences, under the auspices of the SU Water Institute and the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies, as well as four Fraunhofer Institutes.

The Fraunhofer Innovation Platform will address the entire spectrum of water and energy security challenges in the region, from academic research to technology development, transfer and implementation. The platform will complement existing efforts in the context of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus, including that of the ARUA Centre of Excellence in Energy, hosted at SU's Faculty of Engineering, and part of the African Research Universities Alliance framework.


Another top honour for Matie choir

The SU Choir has once again taken first place on the prestigious Interkultur World Rankings. The SU Choir has been in first place on this ranking for amateur choirs since 2012. Besides being at the top of the list of the world's 1 000 leading choirs, it also appears in the number-one spot in the following categories: Mixed Choirs; Sacred Music & Music of the Religions (where it shares the top spot with the Kamerniy Dvichiy Khor from Lysenko in the Ukraine); and Pop, Jazz, Gospel, Spiritual & Barbership Choirs.


Rector and team complete successful Cape Town Cycle Tour

"It was fantastic! We had great support from Maties along the way. We started the race in perfect conditions, although it got a bit more difficult towards the end. But it was all worth it for a deserving cause." These were the words of Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, who completed yet another Cape Town Cycle Tour on 8 March in support of Matie students.

Would you like to get involved? You can make a contribution on Or, if you're planning to participate in any other sporting activities later this year, please let us know via so that we can assist you to show your Matie pride.


New approach reframes retirement savings decision

Researchers at SU came up with an approach that retirement planning professionals can use to offer recommendations that are simple and easy to understand for individuals who have to make difficult retirement planning decisions.

In a study published in the Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning recently, Prof Johann de Villiers and Ms Elze-Mari Roux from SU's Department of Business Management proposed the sustainable lifestyle level approach that reframes the retirement savings decision by focusing on present income and consumption rather than on future needs. 


SciMathUS celebrates 20 years of student success

​​The year 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the Science and Mathematics at University of Stellenbosch (SciMathUS) university preparation programme. This year, only 100 students were selected out of 1 200 applications to be part of the programme.

The programme, presented by the Stellenbosch University Centre for Pedagogy, offers students from educationally disadvantaged circumstances across the country a second chance to qualify for higher education by improving their National Senior Certificate result in specific subjects to enable them to reapply for university programmes. Since its inception, SciMathUS has seen over 1 500 students receiving an opportunity to access the University through the programme.