Of the 10 313 graduands being awarded degrees and diplomas during the 2021 UKZN Autumn virtual Graduation ceremonies, 382 will graduate cum laude and 149 summa cum laude – with women making up 68% of the top achievers!

The virtual Graduation ceremonies – all starting at 11h00 – will be broadcast by the University between 25 and 28 May, starting with the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, followed by the College of Health Sciences, College of Humanities, and lastly, the College of Law and Management Studies.

Degrees will be conferred on graduands who have succeeded in fulfilling relevant academic requirements and whose names appear on the graduation programme, including those whose qualifications are being awarded posthumously.

Acting Executive Director of UKZN’s Corporate Relations Division, Ms Normah Zondo said: ‘The University had hoped that by 2021, we would be able to hold our Graduation celebrations the traditional way. Unfortunately, due to the unprecedented challenges brought about by COVID-19, the University has had once again to change significantly the manner in which it confers qualifications and distributes its degree and diploma certificates. As one of the largest universities in the country, this is an enormous undertaking.’

Zondo says the University will confer 7 399 undergraduate degrees and 2 914 postgraduate degrees, of which 362 are master’s (thesis) qualifications and 257 doctoral degrees. ‘The University is incredibly proud of the achievements of 90 students with disabilities, 26 of whom completed postgraduate studies as well as three exceptional achievers who will graduate with PhDs and six with master’s qualifications,’ added Zondo.

Included among the graduates are 245 international students, 200 of whom will receive postgraduate degrees.

A total of 1 781 degrees will be conferred in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science; 5 362 in the College of Humanities; 2 011 in the College of Law and Management Studies; and 1 159 in the College of Health Sciences.

The ceremonies will be aired online for viewing by graduates, family and friends; while a recording of the event as well as programme will be shared with graduands on the day of their respective College Graduation ceremony.

In her communique, University Registrar Dr Kathy Cleland advised graduands that digital academic transcripts (e-Transcripts) and digital degree/diploma certificates (e-Certificates) will again be made available straight after each ceremony. ‘The digital transcript and certificate have distinct advantages in that they will always be available online anywhere in the world. Certificates can be shared with up to three contacts, including prospective employers, and all parties can immediately confirm the authenticity and veracity of the certificate,’ said Cleland.

‘We are not alone in providing digital documentation – this has become a sector norm,’ she added.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu and Indumathie Moodley

Photograph: Rogan Ward