Stellenbosch University
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Graduates urged to plough back into South Africa
Author: Corporate Communication
Published: 03/04/2020
​​​​​Graduates who were awarded qualifications during Stellenbosch University’s (SU) first virtual ceremony were reminded by SU Chancellor, retired Constitutional Court judge Justice Edwin Cameron, that the immense opportunities afforded to them come with certain responsibilities. 

This includes ploughing back into South Africa and the world, the gifts, the expertise and the opportunities that each obtained through their studies at SU. 

The cohort of 3 278 graduands followed a pre-recorded video, in which Justice Cameron awarded qualifications in absentia. Due to the local outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, a decision was made to cancel the March/April graduation ceremonies as a precautionary measure. 

Earlier this week, Justice Cameron, Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, and the SU Registrar Dr Ronel Retief, all made pre-recorded messages from their respective homes, so as to comply with the lockdown. 

Addressing the graduates, Justice Cameron said it was a great privilege and also a pleasure to preside over the virtual ceremony. 

“I too received a degree from Stellenbosch University – many years ago, more than I care to remember. So, it is quite an adjustment for me to think that this afternoon, in my formal capacity, I’m the one who is conferring the degrees on behalf of the University – a particular honour, because this is my first official duty as Chancellor. 

“But, of course, all of us are undergoing enormous adjustments – in our personal lives, family life, our national life and internationally – because of the COVID-19 disaster. As President Cyril Ramaphosa said when he declared a national state of disaster some weeks ago, we’re in this together, and we will also emerge from it together, and stronger.” 

Justice Cameron congratulated the graduating class and said today they were being recognised for their dedication and hard work. 

“Let me also congratulate the members of your immediate and extended families who supported you, as well as the donors and friends who were there for you.” 

Prof De Villiers also congratulated the graduating class and reminded the new alumni that SU will always be their academic home. 

“Once a Matie, always a Matie!” said De Villiers. 

He also encouraged graduates to visit the online alumni platform,, which facilitates reconnecting with friends, finding job postings, mentors and networking opportunities. 
“We are all experiencing now just how important it is to be connected to each other. Please stay in touch with your alma mater.” 

Registrar at SU, Dr Ronel Retief, reminded graduates that they would still have the opportunity to walk across the stage at the December graduation ceremonies, depending on how the COVID-19 situation develops. While the University cannot currently send graduates’ qualifications by mail because of the lockdown, Retief said they will receive it as soon as it becomes possible. 

The virtual conferral of 3 278 degrees, diplomas and certificates, brought the overall number of qualifications conferred by SU for the 2019 academic year to 9 120. Compared to the 2018 academic year, the 2019 year again saw an increase in not only the number of graduates (9 120 compared to 2018’s 9 007) but also the number of doctorates awarded (361 to 2018’s 308). 

​*Click here to view the virtual conferral of qualifications.​