Top learners from top schools should choose top university

“You come from top schools where you are considered one of the top three learners of your school. Do you not agree that you must therefore choose a top degree programme at a top university for your studies?” These were the words of August Engelbrecht (responsible for student recruitment and retention, Faculty of Engineering) during an information session for Grade 11 learners who excel in Mathematics and Physical Sciences.

The function that took place on 27 October was attended by almost 90 learners, accompanied by their parents. The purpose was to inform learners and their parents about the Faculty of Engineering’s degree programmes and the engineering profession, and to encourage them to choose Stellenbosch University for study in 2020.

The Dean of the Faculty, Prof Wikus van Niekerk, declared: “Choosing a profession is probably one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Our task is to make sure that you have all the necessary information to make an informed decision.”

He also said: “There are two important things that engineers do: they improve the quality of life of people and they drive the economy by putting systems in place and creating jobs. There is a huge shortage of engineers in the country.”

Prof Van Niekerk spoke to the audience about the high success rate of Matie engineering students: 75% of them eventually graduate. This is much higher than the average of 44% in South Africa. Among other things, he gave more information regarding the six BEng programmes and highlighted the profile of a typical engineering student. This includes that students must be creative and love maths and solving problems. They must be practical and flourish in an environment that changes constantly. Additionally, they must also enjoy to work in groups with others and be willing to work very hard.

Dr Quentin Williams, a guest speaker at the event, inspired the audience with his talk about his life. He obtained his BEng (Electrical and Electronic) at SU and obtained a doctorate from Oxford University as a Paul Roos Rhodes Bursary student. Currently he is Manager Strategic Research at the CSIR.

He shared a number of lessons in life with learners:

1. Your circumstances do not determine your success.

2. You matter, and what you do matters.

3. Who you surround yourself with matters.

4. Others matter too.

5. You and others can change the world.

An enthusiastic Dr Williams concluded: “You are not finished as a top Grade 11 achiever. Ultimately you have the ability to change the world.”

Okuhle Mayini, a first-year Matie engineering student, shared her experience with the learners. She said: “You will be challenged every day and your motivation must be 100%. I enjoy it a lot as a student at the Faculty and it has completely changed my way of thinking. I thrive in an atmosphere of problem solving and change.”


Guest speakers at the Top Learners’ event were Dr Quintin Williams and Okuhle Mayini.