UFH Autumn 2020 Graduation goes virtual

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University of Fort Hare graduation ceremonies are usually characterized by live musical renditions by the two university choirs, ululations and loud applause from family and friends.  However, this year,  Covid-19 lockdown restrictions have compelled the university to celebrate its 97th   graduation differently - through a Virtual Graduation Ceremony.

Altogether, 2711 graduands will be featured in the graduation ceremony. The following qualifications will be  conferred by the Chancellor, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC:

  • 1945 Undergraduate Certificates Diplomas and Degrees
  • 274 Postgraduate Diplomas
  • 404 Honours Degrees
  • 64 Masters Degrees
  • 24 PhDs

As per norm, the session will be officiated by the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu.  The ceremony will be flighted on 29 May 2020  on the UFH website and official social media platforms – including Youtube,  to reach as many graduates and their families as possible.

Speaking to This Week @FortHare, Dr Rose Masha, Deputy Registrar: Academic Affairs gave assurance that “the joint graduation team is doing its utmost to still present the celebratory air.”

“UFH always goes all out in celebration during graduation. Although the virtual space cannot capture such joviality 100%, we will still achieve this celebratory air through our wealthy archives,” she said.

According to Dr Masha there will be six clips, representing each of the university’s faculties. “The Deans will each present their faculty’s qualifications. This way, graduates and their families  do not have to watch the whole presentation to get to their names. This also ensures that they do not incur too much data costs when, at a click of a button, they can just directly watch their faculty graduation or those of their peers.”

Director of Institutional Advancement, Ms Tandi Mapukata,  was equally upbeat about the new step the university is embarking on.

“Yes, my team and I are very excited about being presented with yet another opportunity to break new ground.  With limited or no university resources at all, for a number of months now, technical staff in  Institutional Advancement have invested personal assets such as fancy computers, cameras,  software, phones, wifi,  airtime and transport to deliver professional high-tech UFH projects.  You cannot beat that level of commitment. So,  the virtual graduation project is a welcome challenge.  We are constructing something big and professional from a zero-base. I know we will not fail.  This is a promise we’ve made to ourselves, Dr Masha and Manco.  It’s going to look great, watch this space!”, she said.

Depending on  COVID-19 regulations  and university staff resuming office, certificates will be issued to students in the following manner:

a)  Self-collection from Exams offices in UFH campuses (This will only be possible when the travel restrictions have been lifted.)

b) Courier services (students have to make their own arrangements)

c)  Third party collection (students may send someone to collect the certificates on their behalf. Such people have to carry their own ID/Passport, a letter from the graduate authorizing collection and an ID or passport copy of the graduate)

In the meantime, graduands will be emailed congratulatory letters that inform them of their status. The Registrar, Mr Njabulo Zuma has already sent out communication to graduands to update their email addresses as some may no longer be using UFH email addresses.

Dr Masha took the opportunity to congratulate the May 2020 class.  “This is the first-ever virtual graduation cohort at the University of Fort Hare.  While it may seem like a stressful time filled with uncertainly, Nokholeji always pushes through boundaries that seem unfathomable. I believe this cohort will be future trailblazers,  born from this very need to survive and beat the odds,” she said.

by Aretha Linden