(Published - 27 March 2020)
The University of the Western Cape will go ahead with its first graduation season for 2020 – in an unconventional, pioneering manner, while South Africa is on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since our announcement earlier this month that we will hold our April Graduation virtually, universities from all over the country have been inundating UWC with calls about how we intend to do this. We have encouraged them to follow suit where possible.
Graduations are life-changing milestones, especially at UWC where many students are first-generation graduands in their families. Students look forward to this day when they can share their achievement with loved ones and receive their certificates proudly. The University management has therefore opted to celebrate them by using technology.
Earlier this week, UWC’s Chancellor – Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba – was filmed constituting the ceremony and conferring the degrees. The names of all the graduates from the various faculties will be listed in accordance with their original ceremony dates.
An address by Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Vivienne Lawack, was also filmed.
"You are graduating during a very special year in the life of the University of the Western Cape as we celebrate 60 years of being UWC. This is no small feat because we have travelled a long road since the University opened in 1960 with only 166 students," says Professor Lawack.
"The past six decades were filled with great growth and accomplishments - so much so that this once small and humble institution has matured into one of South Africa's leading public universities."
There are many unique UWC graduation traditions which take place in the quad outside the Main Hall. They include singing and dancing, with cleaning staff joining the celebrations by creating a "red carpet" and guard of honour with their aprons for graduands as they walk towards the hall. Graduands also gather for photographs at a sculpture by artist David Hlongwane of a domestic worker celebrating the graduation of her son.
UWC’s Media, Marketing and Communications Office included some of the celebratory footage from previous graduations in the graduation video.
The Virtual Graduation Ceremony will take place on Tuesday, 31 March 2020 at 9h30, and will be made available on various platforms, including the University's website.
Graduate employability is one of the three pillars of UWC’s 60th celebrations, and the University will not hold its graduates back from entering the job market.
UWC Registrar, Dr Nita Lawton-Misra, said that most of the students who are eligible to graduate completed their qualifications in 2019.
"Having patiently waited for their graduation to take place in March/April as initially planned makes it more difficult to accept the possibility of a further postponement," said Dr Lawton-Misra.
"Having considered the risks, as well as the current unique situation we find ourselves in, UWC has decided to graduate its students virtually and send them their certificates via email. Once we return to normal working conditions, the University will arrange for students to receive their paper certificates and transcripts, as well as invite graduates to attend a formal ceremony."
Emmanuel Slinger, who will graduate with his Master of Commerce, said having a virtual graduation ceremony is welcomed in times of uncertainty.
"Even though we are facing a pandemic, I am glad that through the use of technology, we are still able to graduate and move forward," he said.
Slinger, who is graduating from the Department of Information Systems, has investigated the factors influencing the adoption of mobile applications for micro-enterprise operations in South Africa.
Watch the start of the virtual graduation ceremony video:
Watch Emmanuel Slinger, who will graduate with his Master of Commerce, speak about virtual graduation