Summer graduation under threat due to protest action

Summer graduation is hanging in the balance for more than a thousand final-year NMMU students following the institution’s almost month-long closure.

The graduation ceremony, scheduled for December 9 and 10, would have seen students, mostly postgraduates, from eight faculties obtaining their qualifications.

Acting deputy vice-chancellor for institutional support Lebogang Hashatse said although the university was working on a recovery plan, it was not certain if the graduation would go ahead.

Although NMMU spokeswoman Debbie Derry could not pinpoint the exact number of graduates who might be affected, she estimated that about 1 500 students would miss out on the graduation.

“The graduation ceremony taking place depends on when we go back to class. At this point it might not happen,” she said.

“It has not yet been postponed, but the longer it takes for NMMU to resume classes the less likely it will be.”

Derry said the students would then graduate in April at the institution’s main graduation ceremony.

“This will not affect these students as they will be in possession of their academic records which indicate that they have completed their qualification,” she said.

“In other words, if a student has studied a BEd programme, the student is still able to teach.”

Yesterday, NMMU management met more than 500 students at the south campus Kraal to respond to the #FeesMustFall movement’s demands.

The demands included that the university address and distance itself from racism, that the admissions point scores (APS) be lowered and the university management pledge support to the #FeesMustFall movement, among others things.

NMMU acting vice-chancellor Dr Sibongile Muthwa told students the university could not lower the APS and that a racist incident involving a lecturer had been dealt with and the lecturer in question suspended.

She would not commit to saying she supported the # FeesMust- Fall movement.

The students said they wanted a follow-up meeting with her.

The university remains closed until further notice.

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