File picture: Pexels
File picture: Pexels

UJ goes virtual for graduations, unveils unique graduation selfie app

By Masabata Mkwananzi Time of article published May 13, 2020

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A graduation ceremony is usually a jubilant time of the year, as many students go the extra mile to plan their outfits, make-up, and most importantly the grand entrance as they receive their credentials.

However, due to the lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic, none of that will be possible.

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has followed the worldwide trend of hosting the graduation ceremony virtually. UJ will unveil its virtual graduation ceremony this week where its 13 000 graduates will have the opportunity to don their graduation attires in the comfort of their own homes.

A total of 10 000 undergraduate diplomas/degrees and almost 3 000 postgraduate degrees, including 669 Master’s and 133 Doctoral degrees will be virtually awarded by the University’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala.

Due to the level 4 lockdown restrictions on public gathering during the Covid-19 pandemic, the University had to suspend and postpone its autumn and winter series of graduations, which would have amounted to more than 60 graduation ceremonies from 16 March to 13 May.

Speaking ahead of the virtual graduation session, Prof Marwala noted that a graduation ceremony is such a momentous occasion in a student’s life.“We trust this virtual ceremony will afford graduates, family and friends to experience some elements of a graduation ceremony. The University is also planning an in-person celebration at a later stage providing government restrictions are lifted on public gatherings during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Even though the virtual ceremony tends to lack the prestige and passion of a real graduation ceremony, UJ has spiced things up with graduates being able to take a graduation selfie in the graduation attire, while “standing around” virtually at the graduation ceremony.

A first for South African university, UJ will not only introduce a virtual graduation selfie app but also electronic academic records. Graduates (and current students) can now send a secure electronic academic record to themselves or a third party, for example a prospective employer (free of charge). The electronic academic record is an official document that is digitally stamped and signed by the Registrar.

In recent years the qualification verification system enables its graduates to access their qualifications digitally.

Other institutions have also embraced the virtual graduations such as the University of Western Cape (UWC), Stellenbosch University (SU) and the University of Pretoria (UP). 


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