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2020 SMU Virtual Graduation Ceremonies FAQs


What is a virtual graduation ceremony?

It is an official graduation ceremony of the University which will take place in the absence of graduands to enable those who have met the requirements for completion of their studies, to graduate so that they can get their degree/diploma certificates and get on with their lives.

Why does the University not wait for COVID-19 to subside for normal graduation ceremonies to be arranged?

The University’s Executive Committee of Senate (acting on behalf of Senate), has decided to proceed with the graduation ceremonies virtually to allow qualifying candidates to:

  • submit their degree/diploma certificates when applying for employment; and
  • apply for studies at other institutions both in South Africa and abroad.

Secondly, the University is required to report to the Department of Higher Education and Training on the number of graduates it has produced in the 2019/2020 reporting cycle.

When will these ceremonies be held?

The virtual graduation ceremonies will be held from 11-13 May 2020 as follows:

11 May 2020:  School of Science and Technology

12 May 2020:  School of Health Care Sciences and School of Pharmacy

13 May 2020:  School of Oral Health Sciences and School of Medicine

How many qualifications will be conferred or awarded during these ceremonies?

More than 1150 qualifications will be awarded/conferred at diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

How will the ceremonies be conducted?

Members of the University community as well as graduands, their parents and friends will be able to follow the proceedings online. Qualifications will be awarded in absentia by the SMU Chancellor or the acting Chancellor (in the absence of the Chancellor). Thereafter, the Acting Vice-Chancellor will give a congratulatory message to the graduands. The names of graduands will be published per School and per qualification in the graduation programmes.

Can a graduand choose not to “graduate” in these virtual graduation ceremonies?

Graduands cannot choose not to graduate because all of them will graduate in absentia. Their names will be included in the graduation booklets which would be kept as records of the University. Such names will also be formally reported to the Department of Higher Education and Training as part of compliance requirements.

How will I know if I have met the requirements for completion of my qualification?

Eligible graduands can visit the SMU website to check their graduation status by clicking on and follow the prompts. In addition, they will be sent email messages and sms.

Will my name appear on the graduation list if I owe fees?

Yes, your name will appear on the graduation list and you will be allowed to graduate and receive your academic record. However, your diploma/degree certificate will not be issued to you until you have settled your debt.

Am I eligible to graduate if I have not submitted the final bound copy of my dissertation/thesis?

Yes, you will. However your degree certificate will be withheld until you have submitted the two required final bound copies and the CD.

Will graduands have the opportunity to “graduate” again when the situation has normalised?

The University plans to hold a symbolic/celebratory graduation ceremony later in the year where graduands will have the opportunity to ‘walk the stage’ in the presence of family and friends, take photographs, and go home for further celebrations. However, this is subject to the lifting of restrictions that have been imposed by the government as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How will we collect the Higher Certificate, Diploma and Degree certificates after the graduation ceremonies?

The University will send electronic copies of your certificates from Friday, 22 May 2020. Alternatively, you can collect hard copies of your certificates and academic records from Friday, 22 May 2020 in the Enrolment and Certification Office, Room N007, Clinical Pathology Building, subject to Covid-19 restrictions being lifted.

You can also receive your certificates during the symbolic/celebratory ceremonies that will take place later this year. The date will be confirmed and communicated after the lifting of restrictions that have been imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

What are the privileges and rights of being an SMU graduandi?

Upon graduating, you will become part of SMU’s alumni and will have the privilege to promote your university and support it as a donor, mentor to our students and a cheerleader. As an alumnus of SMU, you also stand a chance of advancing your career, expanding your professional network, and access exclusive opportunities.

Where can I get any other information on virtual graduation ceremonies?

For more information on any other matters related to virtual graduation ceremonies, kindly contact Please note that communication should be through email because staff members are currently working from home.