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More than 6700 graduates crossed the stage over Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s (NMMU) two-week long graduation period, which started in George on 31 March 2017.

The 2016 academic year, albeit a difficult and turbulent one, produced the highest graduation numbers for the University to date, with 6786 students from seven faculties capped over 17 ceremonies at the Port Elizabeth and George campuses.


Of the graduates, a record 95 received their doctoral degrees, with three honorary doctorates which were conferred on prominent national and international game changers on 5 April.

Students from NMMU’s first cohort of admitted blind students crossed the stage, while those from the University’s first group of BSc Dietetics students – who began their studies at the programme’s inception in 2013 – graduated.

The 2016 academic year was a difficult one, but the dedication and commitment of staff and students to complete the year’s studies proved fruitful, as evidenced by the higher graduation rate. The April graduation period includes students who were unable to cross the stage in December because of the extended academic year.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Prof Cheryl Foxcroft, who led the team spearheading the Academic Completion Plan at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, said despite having to run the University from the facility, academic standards were maintained.

“Most impressive, however, is that 6786 graduates were capped this month – the highest number of graduates for NMMU’s autumn graduation,” she said.

NMMU’s graduation figures have grown over the last five years, from 5976 graduates in 2012 to 6786 in 2016. In the previous graduation year, a total 6258 students were capped.

The Business and Economic Sciences Faculty led the pack with 2388 graduates, followed by the Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology (EBEIT) and Health Sciences faculties at 1079 and 1017 respectively. The Arts Faculty saw 879 students graduating, with 732 Science graduates crossing the stage. The Education and Law faculties had 446 and 245 graduates respectively.


The university also awarded three honorary doctorates to:


1. Former Public Service and Administration minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi received an honorary doctorate for her contribution to leadership in social and economic transformation, with specific emphasis on the empowerment of women.

2. Globally acclaimed educational entrepreneur Fred Swaniker was honoured for his quest for excellent leadership and his incredible educational entrepreneurship. Passionate about Africa and its leadership development, Swaniker – who was inspired by Nelson Mandela to help produce leaders of the iconic statesman’s stature – co-founded the African Leadership Academy, African Leadership Network and, ultimately, the African Leadership University.

3. Zimbabwe-born entrepreneur and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa, who is a devout philanthropist, co-founded the Higher Life Foundation, a charity that provides scholarships and meals to destitute orphans in Zimbabwe, with his wife Tsitsi, was lauded with a DPhil for his contribution to entrepreneurship, philanthropy and business leadership. He has, through this foundation, provided scholarships to more than 250 000 young Africans over the last two decades. Every year, he supports more than 40 000 orphans in educational initiatives, as well as sponsoring students at universities in America, the United Kingdom, and China.