Universities look forward to graduation season despite protests, disruptions

UCT says students who failed to graduate in a December 2015 ceremony will now graduate in June.

Picture: Freeimages.com

JOHANNESBURG - While some students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) have received their degrees, most South African universities have only just entered their graduation season with a fair number of students managing to attain their degrees.

The University of Johannesburg is celebrating its 9,000 students who are graduating at the Autumn 2016 graduation ceremonies that began on Monday and will end on 13 April.

The institution says this is a new high in its undergraduate pass rate, which has improved by one percent more than a 85,4 percent pass rate recorded in 2014.

UJ Vice-Chancellor Ihron Rensburg said that this is more impressive given the challenges experienced during last year's student protests.

"2015 was a watershed year for higher education, just as 2016 is proving to be. The year was marked by heightened student activism, which prompted universities and the State to re-examine matters as wide-ranging as the affordability of higher education and the transformation of universities. It is most gratifying then to note that despite disruptions to the academic year, as well as attempts to hamper our 2015 year-end examinations, all our exams proceeded without interruption in the end."

Meanwhile the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) will host 16 ceremonies with over 4,600 students receiving their degrees in April.

The institution's Nicoleen Potgieter says last year's protests had no impact on this year's overall results.

"We found that there has been no impact. We actually have a few more students graduating. We graduated 4,638 last year and this year we are looking at 4,656."

UCT will have its second graduation ceremony in June because of the fees protests.

Spokesperson Aamirah Sonday says, "Many students did not graduate in December 2015 due to the delay in writing exams as a result of the fees protests. This delay had a knock-on effect on marking, recording of marks and exam marks appeal processes, which meant that some of the marks were not finalised before the 19 December graduation."

Sonday says all qualifying students, including those who chose to defer their exams to January 2016, will get an opportunity to get capped during the next graduation ceremony in June 2016.

"It is not possible to determine the exact number of UCT graduates in 2016. However, we do expect the June graduation period to be larger than in past years due to deferred and supplementary examinations."

Rhodes University will award a total of 2,103 students over six ceremonies that will be held at the institution from 31 March.