President Robert Mugabe yesterday capped 2 338 Midlands State University (MSU) students who graduated with Honours and Master Degrees in various disciplines at the institution's 11th graduation ceremony in Gweru.
The students were drawn from the faculties of Arts, Social Sciences, Commerce, Law, Natural resources and Agriculture, Science and Technology, and Education. Of the 2 338 students, 1 917 were conferred with under-graduate degrees while 421 graduated with Masters degrees.
43 percent of the graduating students were female. After capping the students the Head of State and Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces later planted a Red Mahogany (Muwawa) tree as part of international tree planting day commemorations.
The day falls on every first Saturday of December every year. Speaking earlier during the graduation ceremony, MSU Vice Chancellor Professor Ngwabi Bhebhe expressed concern over the acute shortage of accommodation at the institution of higher learning. Most students at the college find alternative accommodation in the neighbouring Senga and Nehosho High density suburbs.
Prof Bhebhe said the University was doing all in its power to address the problem and expressed appreciation for the support the college is getting from Government and other stakeholders. "Your Excellency and Chancellor, nothing causes me more heart-aches than student accommodation and in my sleepless nights I am looking for ways to solve the problem.
"At this juncture suffice to say I am extremely heartened by the support of our initiatives, which we are receiving from our parent Ministry and other Government quarters. Such sympathetic support speaks volumes about the humanity of the people who occupy high offices in our Government," he said.
Prof Bhebhe expressed pleasure at the inroads the University is making on the international front citing the recent show by the students who came fourth at the Students in Free Enterprise SIFE competitions held in Washington D.C recently.
"Your Excellency and Chancellor, we are exceedingly pleased to inform you that our students came fourth in the world's biggest entrepreneurial competitions to date, out of a total of 1 600 universities from 39 countries, thereby raising our national flag high and placing Midlands State University on the august international academic landscape," he said.
Prof Bhebhe reiterated the MSU's commitment to improving the quality of teaching at the institution by ensuring that more lecturers enrolled for PhD programmes. "We also fund supervisors of our doctoral students to come to our University to interact with their students. We have also moved from the position where we were in 2009 when we had only 16 PhDs on our staff to the current status where we have a complement of 68 PhDs," he said.
The graduation ceremony was also graced by the acting Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Dr Ignatius Chombo, Swaziland Higher and Tertiary Education Minister, Mr Wilson Ntshangase, Minister of Defence, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Governor and Resident Minister for Midlands Province, Cde Jason Machaya, Zanu-PF Secretary for Information Senator Rugare Gumbo among other senior Government officials and academics.