PRETORIA – The University of Pretoria (UP) will confer more than 11 400 qualifications at 31 virtual graduation ceremonies, which will be held from 13 April to 7 May 2021.
The autumn graduation ceremonies are the third such ceremonies to be carried out online in the past 12 months due to COVID-19 lockdown regulations, which prevent the gathering of large numbers of people. Of the qualifications to be conferred, 198 are doctorates, 1 289 are master’s degrees and 1 141 are certificates.
The virtual graduation ceremonies will include functionaries delivering speeches and carrying out duties that they would ordinarily perform at a graduation ceremony. The YouTube video recording will be broadcast on the date and time allotted to each ceremony, and graduates will receive a link to the video as well as the PDF graduation programme an hour before the ceremony.
UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe congratulated the graduates who, he says, “have achieved this milestone during an incredibly challenging time across the globe”. “In this graduation season, we will be conferring more than 11 400 qualifications, including 198 doctorates and 1 289 master’s degrees. This is a great achievement, especially in these uncertain and unpredictable times. Such an achievement is simply magnificent.”
He praised graduates for persevering with their studies when normal study routines and methodologies had suddenly been upended. “My colleagues and I cannot know what your lived experience was as you toiled to complete your degree, diploma or certificate.” Prof Kupe said that graduates had gained from the experience of studying during campus closures. “For our graduates to make a difference in society, they need to be creative, flexible, resilient, entrepreneurial and collaborative. I can state with confidence that this graduating cohort has these qualities in abundance. They will serve you and our country well.”
He said the University, too, has learnt from the pandemic. “As you know, our preferred mode of teaching and learning during this health crisis has been the hybrid approach, a delivery model that makes use of traditional classroom-based learning tools supplemented by online and technology-supported activities. On the strength of our experiences online during this pandemic, we are reimagining the modes of teaching and learning that we are adopting for the future.”
Prof Kupe said UP graduates need to engage in lifelong learning, “where they learn, unlearn and re-learn”. “In this way they can navigate the emerging world of work that is an outcome of multiple disruptions of the life and the world as we know it, including the disruptions caused by rapid technological change.”
He explained that universities can play an essential role in co-creating the continent we want, post-COVID-19. “Here at the University of Pretoria, we see an opportunity to be one of the agents and drivers of change in Africa and globally, finding and deploying innovative ways to address poverty, unemployment, inequality and social injustice. And, of course, this co-creation must harness the collective expertise, energies and goodwill of our family of alumni, among whom you, this season’s graduates, can now be counted.”
He urged graduates to download the UP Connect Graduway app, which will keep them connected to their alma mater. The app offers alumni access to the many opportunities, wherever they are in the world. “Remember to always keep in contact with the Alumni Office at UP and let us know when your contact details change,” he said.
Honorary doctorates are being awarded to 14 individuals who have made a major contribution to their respective fields. They include Athol Fugard, the playwright, novelist and actor who is considered to be one of the world’s foremost living dramatists, and Aziz Pahad, former deputy minister of foreign affairs, who is internationally recognised for his contributions to local and international peace, security and justice. They will receive honorary doctorates in literature.
Also being awarded honorary doctorates in literature are Abraham H De Vries, who has made a significant contribution to South African literature, and Mfundi Vundla, a titan of the South African entertainment industry. He is best known as the creator and executive producer of long-running SABC television soap opera Generations (later Generations: The Legacy) and the medical drama series Jozi H.
World-renowned jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim will receive an honorary doctorate in music.
Students can collect their certificates from the Hillcrest Campus on the day they graduate, and can book appointments to have their photographs taken in academic wear. They are encouraged to rent or purchase academic regalia and place orders for photograph packages in advance. Those who are not able to do so will have an opportunity to do this at a stretch tent on Hillcrest Campus next to Hall 2A, where certificate collection will be taking place. Graduates need to book for the collection of their certificates on the student portal (Student Centre). Collection dates are between 13 April 2021 and 7 May 2021; graduates can book for the collection of their certificates from 9 April 2021.