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2018 in review

What an exciting year we’ve had! As I’m writing this, we’ve just entered another hour or two of load-shedding, and I’m thankful for a reliable laptop on battery power.

In the centennial year of the University, a number of bold decisions were finalised to launch some of the largest renewal projects in the last two decades.

The successor systems for two core administrative applications, Student and Financial Management, were evaluated, selected and approved by the Rectorate by the end of November. Both  applications, to be implemented over the next two years, are modern and innovative in important aspects:

  • The systems will be implemented in the cloud and developed and maintained by leading international vendors. This is a major change for the university, having developed and maintained the legacy applications in-house for more than 25 years.
  • The platforms serving these applications will be located in the cloud, and not on campus like before. This will have a major impact on the nature of our work and will enable us to utilise resources in new ways to improve our services to the university.

As far as we’re aware, no other university in South Africa has migrated these applications to a cloud based platform yet.

The IT Division has been hard at work to improve the quality and sustainability of our services. In August, we submitted the two-year Quality Improvement Report to the institutional Quality Committee, which was accepted with acclaim. The report mentioned important improvement milestones, like the establishment of a new governance body for information and technology management, the Technology and Information Committee, as well as many organisational, infrastructure and service improvements.

Another major achievement for the year is the development and implementation of the ICT Partner Portal, a system to streamline and manage all work streams for ourselves and our partners, colleagues and clients. Since implementation in September, about 80% of the service processes in the IT Division has been defined and configured in the system, and more than 17000 incidents and requests were processed in three months. The system is designed to provide transparency to the workflow and completion of tasks to all process stakeholders – users or clients, service staff and management.

The year will also be remembered for the steep increase in cyber-attacks, especially phishing attempts. A dedicated cybersecurity function was established to deal with the rising threats, and to our dismay, we noticed a significant percentage of manpower being absorbed by this phenomenon.

We are also sad to see a number of colleagues leaving our team, some retiring and others to greener pastures. We wish all of them well, especially Callie van der Merwe and Thys de Wet, who spent their entire career at Stellenbosch University.

Lastly, a word of appreciation to prof Stan du Plessis, our new Chief Operating Officer, for the first full year of his leadership and support. We are inspired and eager to enter 2019 with renewed energy, after a short period of rest.

Best wishes for the festive season!

Attie Juyn

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