The University of Pretoria (UP) will confer 1 511 degrees, diplomas and certificates to graduates in absentia during virtual graduation ceremonies this spring, starting today, Monday, 13 September.
Of the 1 511 qualifications, 151 are doctorates and 598 are master’s degrees.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, graduation ceremonies that were scheduled to take place between 13 September and 17 September 2021 have been converted into virtual ceremonies in order to adhere to national lockdown and physical distancing protocols.
Like the virtual autumn graduation ceremonies this year, the spring sessions will be broadcast for graduates and guests to watch. Following the ceremony, graduates will receive a congratulatory video message from UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe. Special arrangements have also been made for graduates to have their photograph taken in academic regalia with their loved ones.
“In some ways the COVID-19 pandemic has made this graduation and your achievement even more special,” Prof Kupe said during the first of the graduation ceremonies, Education and Distance Education, on Monday afternoon. “Because you did it despite COVID-19. You did it, despite all those things that turned your life upside down. You did it, despite your teaching and learning moving from UP’s interactive hybrid mode to 100% online almost overnight. You did it – against all the odds. You achieved this during one of the most difficult periods in recent world history. We are so proud of you, and so thankful to all those who invested in you and supported you on your journey to crossing this finishing line.”
As an institution, UP aims to use its unique community-focused education to improve the communities that surround the University, Prof Kupe added.
“We are not just an ATM that provided your qualifications. We didn’t teach you in a vacuum; we embedded large-scale community engagement into our curriculum. Chances are you are one of the over 30 000 people who studied one of the 300 modules available to those who participate in community engagement annually. These approximately 3 000 projects engage with about 1 000 community partners and contribute almost R72 million a year to the local economy in terms of working hours.”
Prof Kupe’s hope is that these graduates join the 300 000 UP alumni who have become household names in various spheres of society, from business to sport.
“For over 100 years, UP has been unwavering in its commitment to producing upstanding citizens – our 300 000 successful alumni are testament to this. Many are household names who are continuing to make their mark in fields such as agriculture, business, engineering, education, health, politics, media, and on the stage and screen. And, we dare not forget, on sports fields. UP has always been a sporting powerhouse. We may not all be gold medallists who break world records, as UP alumna Tatjana Schoenmaker recently did, but in our eyes and those of your family, friends and community, you are all gold medallists today.”
Prof Kupe reminded graduates that they will always be part of the UP community. “The University of Pretoria is an institution that is on its way to becoming a beacon for diversity and inclusivity, a future-orientated university that is a driver of social change. And you are now one of its graduates. Congratulations!”