Stellenbosch University is recognised as one of the four top research universities in South Africa. It takes pride in the fact that it has one of the country’s highest proportions of postgraduate students of which almost ten percent are international students.
The University lies in the picturesque Jonkershoek Valley in the heart of the Western Cape Winelands. The earliest roots of the University can be traced back to the 17th century when a beginning was made with regular school instruction. In 1859 the Theological Seminary was founded and in 1866 the Stellenbosch Gymnasium. In 1881, the “Arts Department” of the Stellenbosch Gymnasium became the Stellenbosch College and renamed the Victoria College in 1887. In 1918, Victoria College made way for an independent university and Stellenbosch University opened its doors for some 500 students and 39 lecturers. The University has since then grown into the internationally recognised institution of excellence it is today with more than 24 000 students, 800 lecturers and some 50 research and service bodies.
The University has ten faculties, of which eight –AgriSciences, Arts and Social Sciences,Education,Engineering, Law, Science, Theology and the larger part of Economic and Management Sciences - are located on the main campus in Stellenbosch with the Faculty of Health Sciences situated on the Tygerberg campus. The Bellville Park campus is home to theBusiness School and the school’s Executive Development programme. The coastal town of Saldanha serves as the base for the Faculty of Military Sciences.
The campuses of Stellenbosch University make up a vibrant melting pot of different cultures and various student organisations can be found on the four campuses. They cater for a wide range of interests such as culture, politics, religions, spiritual concern and relaxation. There are also a number of well-know and established student activities, such as RAG that add to the unique experience of being a Matie, as a student of Stellenbosch is affectionately known.
Landmarks include the plane tree-lined Victoria Street, around which student and academic life centres, the “Ou Hoofgebou” (Old Main Building), which was completed in 1886, the JS Gericke Library, which is notable for being subterranean, the JS Marais Square, affectionately called the Red Square and named after the University’s main initial benefactor, Mr Jannie Marais, a modern Conservatorium, which is also home to the internationally acclaimed Stellenbosch University Choir, and a fully-fledged theatre, known as the HB Thom Theatre. The Langenhoven Students’ Centre (Neelsie) houses the Students’ Representative Council, a shopping centre, the offices of the various student societies and the University’s community radio station, MFM 92.6.