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Covid-19: NUS, NTU graduation ceremonies move online or postponed

SINGAPORE — The National University of Singapore (NUS) announced “with a heavy heart” on Thursday (May 20) that the commencement ceremonies for its graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 will be a virtual event.

Covid-19: NUS, NTU graduation ceremonies move online or postponed

A graduation ceremony held for the 2020 cohort at Nanyang Technological University in March 2021.

  • NUS is moving its graduation ceremonies for graduates or graduating students online
  • It has not held these ceremonies for its 2020 cohort since last year
  • NTU is postponing in-person graduation ceremonies for its graduating cohort of 2021 until further notice
  • Three other universities are monitoring the situation and deciding later


SINGAPORE — The National University of Singapore (NUS) announced “with a heavy heart” on Thursday (May 20) that the commencement ceremonies for its graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 will be a virtual event. 

A day before, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which held in-person graduation ceremonies for its class of 2020 in March this year, said that it will be postponing the convocation for its class of 2021 until further notice. 

The two universities are revising their schedules for these events due to the rising cases of locally transmitted coronavirus infections and new restrictions on gatherings imposed.

The NUS class of 2020 have been waiting to have their graduation ceremony since last year when the pandemic was ongoing. It was supposed to take place this year from June 17 to end-July.

In his address to the graduates of the class of 2020, NUS president Tan Eng Chye noted that “since late April, we have seen a steep spike in Covid-19 cases in the community, especially the number of unlinked cases”.

Due to the current situation, which Professor Tan said is “very fluid and the outlook ahead is uncertain”, NUS is unable to hold in-person ceremonies for its graduating cohorts of 2020 and 2021.

Prof Tan also said that the virtual graduation ceremony “will retain elements of our traditional proceedings, to honour your accomplishments with your family and friends”. 

NTU already held in-person graduation ceremonies this year between March 1 and 16 for its class of 2020 after having postponed the graduation ceremony last year due to the restriction on large-scale events.

The class of 2020 of Nanyang Technological University had graduation ceremonies in March 2021. Photo: Nanyang Technological University, Singapore/Facebook

On Wednesday, in an address to NTU’s class of 2021, the university’s president Subra Suresh and Mr Ling San, deputy president and provost, informed the graduating batch of the postponement of in-person graduation ceremonies that were meant to be upcoming in July. 

They said that the “lingering uncertainty” of the pandemic and the ensuing tightening of public health safety regulations that started this week were the reasons for the postponement.

The students will be told later of the new dates for their convocation. 

Other universities here contacted by TODAY said that they were still monitoring the Covid-19 situation and have not decided on how they will be conducting these events. 

Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) said: “Our graduation ceremony for SIT class of 2020 took place physically in February 2021, with all necessary safe measures in place.

“However, we do not have concrete plans yet for the SIT class of 2021. SIT is monitoring the situation, and will follow the national posture and MOE’s directive accordingly.”

Singapore University of Social Sciences said that its class of 2020 recently had an in-person convocation ceremony from April 29 to May 6 before the tightened restrictions were announced. 

It added: “As the class of 2021 convocation will only be taking place later in (October) this year, we will then make a decision, dependent on the Covid-19 situation.” 

Singapore University of Technology and Design similarly said that it is still assessing the situation and will decide closer to the date since its graduation ceremonies are usually held in September. 

Singapore Management University has declined to comment. As of now, it has planned to organise in-person ceremonies for its classes of 2020 and 2021 between July and August this year. 

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Health had barred graduating tertiary students who have started working in healthcare institutions from attending their graduation ceremonies. The directive was published on the websites of all five polytechnics here.  

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