3278 graduands from Stellenbosch University (SU) will be able to follow a virtual conferral of their qualifications at 14:00 this Friday (3 April 2020). Due to the national lockdown that came into effect last week, a decision was made to cancel the March/April graduation ceremonies.
“To celebrate this important milestone, graduands and their families and friends will be able to follow the virtual proceedings online," explains Dr Ronel Retief, the SU Registrar. “Qualifications are being awarded in absentia by the new SU Chancellor, Justice Edwin Cameron. Justice Cameron, Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, and myself will follow the proceedings online after having made pre-recorded messages from our respective homes, so as to comply with the lockdown."
10 minute video
The virtual conferral of qualifications – in the form of a video download – will be no longer than 10 minutes, so as to not incur huge data costs. A link to the virtual proceedings will be published on the SU homepage (www.sun.ac.za) on Friday morning. A video recording will also be made available on the webpage for those who would like to watch it afterwards.
Now is the time to contribute to society
Cameron said that now, more than ever, we should embrace with enthusiasm the opportunity to contribute to society.
To graduands he said: “My wish is that the pride and joy we rightly share at your achievement will grow into something even more precious – a sense of duty and responsibility. Your new qualification, your new status, gives you the opportunity to use the knowledge, skills and networks you gained through your studies to help make our country and the world a better place for all."
He added that it is a great honour for him to preside at the virtual ceremony: “We created this special event under extraordinary circumstances. We are all required to change the way we do things because of the dire threat COVID-19 poses. But as President Cyril Ramaphosa said, 'If we work together, we will beat this disease. I have no doubt that we shall overcome.'
“The University and I extend our respect, appreciation and congratulations to everyone involved – students, lecturers, supervisors and promotors. Family members deserve a particular mention – as well as the friends, donors and sponsors who supported graduands in the dedication and focus that acquiring their qualifications demanded."
Increase in doctorates
Compared to the 2018 academic year, the 2019 academic year again saw an increase in not only the number of graduands (9120 compared to 2018's 9007) but also the number of doctorates awarded (361 to 2018's 308).
Retief added that certificates and other documentation will only be mailed after the lockdown, but that her office is investigating the possibility of providing graduation documentation electronically to those who urgently need their documents – thus, before the national lockdown is lifted. Further information in this regard will be published on the SU website as soon as it becomes available.
In writing to graduands Retief said: “We would like to thank you in advance for your understanding during this difficult period. We undertake to keep you informed about the distribution of graduation documents as the situation unfolds over the next few weeks."
March/April graduates will still be afforded the opportunity to cross the graduation stage in December, provided that the December ceremonies are not affected by die pandemic.