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USB celebrates 50 years of innovation and thought leadership

Prof Piet Naudé. Prof Piet Naudé.

The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), which opened its door in 1964 as a local, regional business school with 13 part-time MBA students, has over the past 50 years advanced to become an internationally recognised business school.

 In its unrelenting pursuit of excellence USB has created a culture of innovation which led the school to become the first South African business school to acquire all three the international accreditations– EQUIS, AACSB and AMBA. USB has over the years shaped the careers of more than 18 000 alumni.

Prof Piet Naudé, who became the new director of USB on 1 September, intends to continue the focus on quality and innovation to further develop the school which today has cooperation agreements with more than 80 prominent business schools across the globe. He also wants to expand the school’s footprint in Africa via cooperation with USB-ED and by capitalising on virtual learning opportunities that are opening up. This, he believes, could provide USB with an edge as the number one business school at the gateway to Africa.

While celebrating 50 years and boasting a new director, two other achievements have been bestowed upon USB this year. First, the School has been ranked top business school in South Africa by employers in the public and private sector who participated in the 2014 Professional Management Review (PMR.africa) survey. Then, a week ago, the school has been ranked one of the top 3 Excellent Business Schools in Africa in the annual Eduniversal survey of deans of more than 150 business schools globally.

Prof Eon Smit, director of USB from 1996 to 2010, said continuous change had been at the forefront of the school’s success in its fifty-year history.

“USB initially focused on the Cape Town market for business education, then grew into a national institution before becoming a respected player in the international arena, with a particular focus on Africa.”

Over the years the school, which initially offered only MBA degrees, had broadened and deepened its academic portfolio. “Today, the academic portfolio includes Master's degrees in Development Finance, Futures Studies (with the IFR) and Management Coaching, Postgraduate Diplomas in Development Finance, Leadership, Project Management and Futures Studies, as well as PhD degrees in Business Management and Development Finance.

“Along with the growth in academic programmes, the number of research centres has multiplied, as has the number of research publications, reflecting the continued emphasis placed on the development of a research culture and ability to support sustainable intellectual growth, both in the school and in its clients' organisations.”

Marietjie Wepener, USB deputy director responsible for business development, marketing and communication, said the institution’s excellent reputation provided it with a great competitive advantage.

“We were the first business school spawned by an African university to receive three international accreditations and earlier this year – for the third consecutive year - we took the top position in the PMR.africa ranking based on an extensive survey among employers of MBA graduates in South Africa.”

The MBA programme head, Marlize Terblanche-Smit notes: “Students from all over South Africa, from close to 20 African countries, Europe and elsewhere all choose USB for its ability to shape leaders, advance careers and enhance critical thinking.”

This is echoed by Charles Adjasi, head of the development finance programmes, “Our teaching staff are leaders in their respective fields and are recognised internationally for their expertise in, for example, the role of business in society, leadership development, development finance and the economy of Africa.”

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