The one university that almost all South Africa’s billionaires went to

 ·17 May 2024

Of South Africa’s six dollar-billionaires, 67% of them enrolled at Stellenbosch, while one studied abroad at one of the United Kingdom’s prestigious universities.

The global billionaires club has many individuals who did not pursue higher education, including Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates.

In fact, according to Approved Index—a UK-based business-to-business platform—as many as 32% of the world’s top 100 billionaires did not complete tertiary education.

Among those who attended university, 22% studied engineering, 12% studied business, and 19% made their fortune through tech.

However, when looking at the qualifications South Africa’s six billionaires chose to pursue, it seems a Bachelor of Laws was a favourite.

Additionally, of the six dollar-billionaires as tracked by Forbes’ real-time billionaires list, four enrolled at Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape.

The Rooi Plein, Stellenbosch University

South African luxury goods tycoon Johann Rupert remains the country’s richest man, with a net worth exceeding $11 billion (approx. R202 billion).

The chairman of Compagnie Financiere Richemont enrolled in a degree in Economics and Company Law at the University of Stellenbosch before dropping out to pursue a career in business. In 2004, the university awarded him an honorary doctorate in Economics.

In 2008, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in Commerce from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

He was also awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by The university of St. Andrews, Scotland.

Mining magnate Nicky Oppenheimer studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Oxford.

In 2003, the University of Johannesburg awarded Oppenheimer a Doctorate in Technology. The former chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines is worth $9.5 billion (approx. R174.5 billion).

Patrice Motsepe obtained a Bachelor of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand and a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Swaziland.

Motsepe founded and chairs African Rainbow Minerals, which has interests in a wide range of mines, including platinum, coal, iron, copper, and gold.

Koos Bekker, the former CEO of Naspers, graduated from Stellenbosch University with a degree and honours in Literature and Law.

He then enrolled at Wits University, where he pursued law studies. He is also an MBA graduate of Columbia University in the United States.

Like Motsepe, Bekker is estimated to be worth $2.9 billion (approx. R53.3 billion).

Co-Founder of Capitec Bank Michiel Le Roux graduated from the University of Stellenbosch and received an honorary doctorate in Commerce for his pioneering work in banking.

Retail tycoon Christoffel Wiese, at 82, is the oldest of the six billionaires. He attended Stellenbosch University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts/Science and LLB degrees.

Johann RupertBachelor of Commerce (BCom) in Economics and Company LawStellenbosch University (dropped out)
Nicky OppenheimerBachelor of Arts (BA) (Politics, Philosophy and Economics)Oxford University
Patrice MotsepeBachelor of Laws (LLB)
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and the University of Swaziland
Koos BekkerBachelor of Arts (BA)
Bachelor of Laws (LLB)
Stellenbosch University, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and Columbia Business School
Michiel Le RouxBachelor of Commerce (BCom)
Bachelor of Laws (LLB)
Stellenbosch University
Christoffel Wiese Bachelor of Arts (LLB)Stellenbosch University

Read: The 13 best universities in South Africa – with four among the top 500 in the world

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