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Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University

Although the name Stellenbosch is synonymous with good South African wines it is also known worldwide as the home of one of South Africa's top universities, Stellenbosch University. The history of the university dates back to December 1863 when the foundation was laid for the establishment of the Stellenbosch Gymnasium. This became a reality in 1866. 8 years later saw the founding of what was then called the Arts Department. This department started out with almost 120 scholars and a professor of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, and a professor of Classical and English Literature. After 5 short years the potential for growth was phenomenal and the decision was made to build a proper college building to create more teaching space. The 6 November 1886 saw the opening of the new building and the Gymnasium was renamed Victoria College in 1887 in honour of Queen Victoria's golden jubilee.

In 1874, less than a decade after the establishment of the Gymnasium, the so-called Arts Department was founded. The Department started out with 120 scholars and two professors of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, and Classical and English Literature respectively. In 1879, the decision was made to build a proper college building to create more teaching space. The new building was inaugurated on 6 November 1886 and renamed Victoria College in 1887 in honour of Queen Victoria's golden jubilee, the 50-year celebration of her ascent to the British throne.

From this point the growth of the college took place rapidly, with the construction of various facilities such as the Physics laboratory, the Christian Marais library and buildings for Education and Science. An expansion project which was initiated in 1904 led to the establishment of research chairs in Zoology, Botany, History and Applied Mathematics and in 1911, the first professor of Education was appointed.

1916 the Union of South Africa Parliament paved the way for the establishment of the university and on 2 April 1918, Victoria College became Stellenbosch University. Mr Jan Marais of, the local benefactor who made the universities establishment possible is remembered by his statue which can be seen on the Red Square on mid-campus, while his Victorian residence at Coetzenburg houses Stellenbosch University Sport. By this point in time the university had over 500 students and 40 lecturing staff. In the years since its establishment the university has grown in size and number and ten different faculties. These faculties include, AgriSciences, Economic and Management Sciences, Medical and Health Sciences, Engineering, Military Sciences, Arts and Social Sciences, Science, Education, Law and Theology. The university is spread over five campuses and at the beginning of 2013 had a student body of over 28 000 which includes more than 3 000 foreign students, a lecturing staff complement of 939, and some 50 research and service divisions.

Stellenbosch University is one of the very few tertiary institutions left in South Africa that still offers tuition in Afrikaans. This is one of the major reasons that it is held in such high regard by the Afrikaans community in South Africa with some of the country still seeing it as a central pillar of Afrikaner life.

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