Nearly 2000 Nelson Mandela University graduants are set to be conferred their under- and postgraduate qualifications at the institution’s six summer graduation sessions this week.
These include more than 30 doctoral degrees and an honorary doctorate to be awarded to Dr Judy Dlamini – a medical doctor, MBA, Doctor of Business Leadership, Wits University Chancellor and one of South Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs.
Dr Dlamini, who practiced as a medical doctor for several years before pursuing a business career, expressed her gratitude at being conferred her first ever honorary qualification.
“I am most grateful to Nelson Mandela University, the only university totally led by women,” she says.
“I have never received any honorary recognition, I worked for my doctorate and there is something especially significant to be awarded this honorary doctorate in Nelson Mandela’s centenary year.”
Dr Dlamini’s honorary doctorate award follows those of Dr Gcina Mhlophe, Prof Marina Xaba-Mokoena and Justice Mandisa Maya in April, which coincided with the inauguration of the institution’s first black African female Vice-Chancellor Prof Sibongile and Chancellor Dr Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi.
This year’s Summer graduation, the fourth since its introduction in 2014, will see a total 1965 students receiving their qualifications. Of these, 1162 (or 59%) graduates are obtaining undergraduate diplomas and Bachelor’s degrees, while 798 (or 41%) are obtaining postgraduate certificates, diplomas and degrees.
Of the postgraduate cohort, 101 (or 13%) graduates will be receiving their Master’s degrees, while 34 (or 4%) will be receiving Doctoral qualifications. The remainder of the postgraduate students graduating will be qualifying for Honours degrees, as well as postgraduate certificates and diplomas, which are important pipelines for Master’s and Doctoral studies.
A group of about 17 students will be the first cohort of graduates in the Bachelor of Radiography in Diagnostics degree programme, which was introduced four years ago. The four-year degree programme replaced the previous three-year diploma programme.
This graduation period also sees the introduction of a number of aspects as raised by staff, students and alumni through focus groups and online surveys on how graduation – an apex event on students’ academic careers – should be transformed and carried out in a way that is more representative of a “dynamic African university”.
These include the introduction of a graduant procession where, for the first time, all graduating students will enter the hall in a procession befitting of this milestone occasion at the start of each ceremony.
In line with public safety requirements for all major events, the University has introduced a ticketing system for all graduates and their guests. This will see graduates receiving four tickets for their guests, with excess guests to view the ceremony via livestream in a neighbouring overflow venue. However, in keeping with the university’s ethos of access and inclusivity, it has committed to doing all that it can to ensure that as many guests as possible are seated in the main hall without flouting safety regulations.