Stellenbosch University has an established multi-layered international network, encapsulated in more than 135 formal bilateral agreements, enjoying membership of over 15 international consortia and the participation of academic staff in close to 600 recorded independent collaborative projects by the start of 2016. Over the past two decades, the university has continuously built and maintained academic networks that advance student and staff development on the continent and globally, while also prompting the university to develop its structures, systems and processes to not only respond to international currents, but to lead and coordinate them:
- Stellenbosch University has a rich history in the management of and collaboration in sustainable international academic networks that include more than 2500 active research contracts and more than 40 EU-funded projects.
- The university has participated in the Erasmus Mundus Action 2, ACP-EU Cooperation Programme in Higher Education (EDULINK), Intra-ACP, Erasmus + Key Action 1 and Erasmus + programmes. SU has coordinated two Intra-ACP programmes (awarded in 2011 and 2013) and participated as partner in 4 others that include the Faculties of AgriSciences, Engineering, Medical and Health Sciences as well as the Natural Sciences and involved the academic mobility of students and staff between Anglophone, Lusophone and Francophone Africa.
- The efforts to strategically capitalise on the developmental potential of the continent are actively supported from the Vice Rectorate for Research under which the Division for Research Development (DRD), the Library and Information Services (LIS) and the Postgraduate & International Office (PGIO) are located. The positioning of these offices allow for a seamless institutional cooperation that aids in the awareness of and response to grant proposals, the implementation of projects and schemes and the monitoring and evaluation of these programmes.
- One of the key implementation offices of international projects and mobility schemes, the PGIO, has 23 years of experience and close to 50 permanent academic staff supporting the logistical and administrative aspects of international academic networks. The office has 7 distinct units: International Relations Unit, International Enrolments and Postgraduate Support and Skills Development, Postgraduate Student Funding, Finance and Support Unit, International Student Mobility unit, the African Doctoral Academy and the Confucius Institute. As the university is home to some 4110 international students, the PGIO serves as their administrative and support hub from pre-application phase, arrival and orientation to the commencement, mobility experience and support at departure. This experience has honed the management skills of staff dealing with semester exchange, research affiliate, summer school, ‘free-mover’ and degree-seeking students from more than 100 countries.
- In 2016, the University created a new Vice-Rectorate on Internationalisation and Strategic Initiatives, which underscores the importance of internationalisation for the university.
- The Industrial Engineering department has been involved in several international projects over the years with various collaborators. The most note worthy are the Fraunhofer collaborations where the Industrial Engineering department hosts a Fraunhofer IWU Joint Lab and have been involved in a number of projects since 2005. This includes the Fraunhofer Biologicalisation Project and the Resource Efficient Process Chain project. The Industrial Engineering department also has a joint masters degree with Reutlingen University in Germany. This came about from the NIL learning factory project which was funded by the German Federal Government.