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Mzuzu University holds virtual graduation

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The Covid pandemic has forced Mzuzu University (Mzuni) to hold its 22nd congregation on February 26 virtually.

Mzuni Registrar Yonamu Ngwira indicates, in a statement he released on Saturday, that President Lazarus Chakwera, who is set to be installed as chancellor of the university, would preside over the event.

This is in line with the Mzuni Act Number. 12 of 1997.

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“The same will be streamed live online on the Mzuzu University website: www.mzuni.ac.mw, Mzuzu University Facebook page (linked to the website)…. Additional platforms may be added,” the statement reads.

Ngwira adds that all Covid prevention measures would be adhered to during the live hosting of the event.

“A seating arrangement will ensure a minimum of two-metre social distance. Wearing of masks or face shields will be observed at all times. In addition, hand sanitisers and handwashing facilities will be provided,” he said.

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Since this will be a virtual ceremony, there will be no rehearsals for graduands for the congregation; “as such, only those officials with direct roles and responsibilities; a pair of male and female student representatives from postgraduate, open, distance and eLearning; and face-to-face will be part of the live hosting audience,” he added.

A thousand students that completed their studies after December 2019 will graduate from the university.

Their representative, Andrew Maliro, said they were happy with the development because “This is what we have been pushing for. The delay to have the graduation affected us negatively because most of us have been applying for jobs but could not produce certificates and were being left out. Others were even losing out on promotions because they could not produce valid papers”.

The students gave Mzuni administration until February 12 to release details of their graduation ceremony, alleging the institution was “playing games” on the issue.

Recently, dons of another public university, the University of Malawi (Unima), said they had no clear stand on whether the institution would hold virtual or physical-attendance graduation.

There are on-going disagreements among graduands from The Polytechnic, a constituent college of Unima, as some are asking for virtual graduation due to rising cases of Covid while others have signalled readiness to wait for a post-Covid graduation event.

Unima Deputy Registrar Ashanie Gawa said the university was flexible.

“The previous cohort had similar debates as some wanted physical graduation while others wanted virtual graduation. We, however, had physical and virtual graduation at the same time and it was optional for the graduates. We are very flexible,” he said.

Nonetheless, Employers Consultative Association of Malawi President George Khaki said companies were supposed to recognise graduands as degree-holders despite not graduating yet.

“If graduands are looking for a job while they have a transcript from the university, and not merely a letter, they will be recognised as credible potential employees,” Khaki said.

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