President Robert Mugabe, who is also the Chancellor of the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU), has conferred degrees to more than 3 000 graduands at the 15th graduation ceremony held at the institution’s new Harare campus in Hatcliffe this Friday.

A total of 3 339 students were conferred with first degrees, masters and doctorates from the Faculties of Arts, Education, Science and Technology Applied Social Sciences, Agriculture, Communication and Law and Information Technology.

Of the total number of graduands, 293 received masters’ degrees, 17 got doctorates while 1900 were conferred with first degrees.

Today’s graduands add to the 30 195 the ZOU has released into the world since inception.

Prominent personalities and dignitaries at this year’s graduation were Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Minister Makhosini Hlongwane who attained a Masters in Media and Communication, legislator Retired Brigadier General Walter Kanhanga who got a Master of Arts degree in Peacemaking and Mrs Marry Chiwenga who obtained an MBA.

Ministers Cde Patrick Chinamasa, Dr Mike Bimha and Minister of State for Harare Metropolitan province Cde Miriam Chikukwa, also attended the graduation ceremony.

ZBC camera person Fairstars Mukungurutse also graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies while former ZBC Environment and Tourism Correspondent Rugare Dobbie was conferred with an MBA.

The graduation ceremony has been described as unique in that it takes place at a time when the institution lost its founding Vice Chancellor Dr Primrose Kurasha who died in February this year.

A minute of silence was held in her honour before the graduation kicked off.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Alfred Champion Ncube outlined some of the projects that the university is working on to comply with the modernisation thrust and to expand its infrastructure.

Visibly absent was Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo who was represented by his deputy Dr Godfrey Gandahwa and Permanent Secretary Francis Gudyanga.

The graduation ceremony was held under the theme: ‘Transforming Higher Education for Industrialisation and Modernisation’ in line with the country’s regional thrust.