The national lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic means that Walter Sisulu University will, for the first time in its history, conduct a virtual graduation ceremony scheduled to transmit on the institution’s official Facebook page on Friday 22 May.
Set to be officiated by WSU Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Rob Midgley, the short ceremony will witness the overall acknowledgement of the approximately 6 147 deserving certificate, diploma and degree recipients.
“Given the restrictions imposed on gatherings, the university will hold an online graduation ceremony to recognise the achievements of the graduating class of 2020. Even when the lockdown is lifted, it would be unwise for thousands of graduands and their families to gather in our halls given the resurgence trends seen in other countries when lockdown was lifted,” said Midgley.
Due to the massive number expected to graduate, the university has elected to acknowledge, via a ticker-tape running across the bottom of the screen, only those who will be obtaining the postgraduate qualifications of Doctoral, Masters and Honours Degrees.
For those whose names won’t be beamed, graduation programmes of all four campuses consisting of lists of all the graduates’ names will be uploaded and available for viewing on Facebook, together with the virtual graduation screening.
Midgley said that in response to the teaching and learning crisis, the institution has established the Teaching and Learning Team, which is charged with coordinating academic business continuity, looking especially into the speedy rollout of teaching and learning services in a limited contact environment.
“We’ve identified three pathways to inform and execute our teaching and learning. First, we have made provision for technology-infused teaching and learning using Blackboard to facilitate learning. Second, we have adopted teaching and learning akin to distance learning, whereby provision is made for students who’re unable to access Blackboard and/or have connectivity problems. Lastly, a compressed face-to-face contact teaching when students are back to ensure that regardless of the pathway adopted by students, they have an equal learning opportunity,” explained Midgley.
Of the 6147 graduands to be acknowledged, four from the Mthatha Campus will be conferred with doctoral degrees, 17 with Masters, and 108 with Honours. A total of 116 students have obtained their qualification with a Cum Laude pass.