By Vicky Witts | Head of Comment
The word ‘university’ conjures a variety of images for many of us; from the stress of dissertations to partying and sports culture. But perhaps the most iconic image of being a student is that of the gowned young adult walking across the stage on graduation day to collect their certificate in front of their family and friends. A moment of celebration and appreciation for the many years of studying taken to achieve their degree.
This image, however, has become all but forgotten over the last two years, with the coronavirus pandemic cancelling ceremonies, and forcing many new graduates to move straight into work or further studying without the feeling of accomplishment gained within the usual graduation ceremony.
Now that the end of the pandemic is in sight, and most of the government restrictions have been lifted, many UK universities are offering a return to standard graduation practices, while also offering the same to graduates who previously did not get a ceremony.
Cardiff University is running three days of graduation ceremonies, starting from the 20th of July, assigning one day to each graduating year. However, this plan has come under fire by many students online, who feel that there are places where the university has seemingly cut corners, rather than making a full return to normality.
For example, an email from the university to students stated that: “you will not cross the stage, but will stand and celebrate as a School from your place on the pitch”. This is a change from ceremonies of the past, which have seen the graduation process be split into each academic school, with graduates walking across the stage individually to collect their scroll.
Many students online have expressed their annoyance at this change, with many suggesting that this new group graduation format diminishes the success of each individual graduate, who has worked individually to achieve their own degree.
Furthermore, many have added that standing with other students on their course is particularly impersonal, as online learning throughout Covid-19 meant that a large number of students have never met or rarely spoken to each other. Essentially, students will have their degree recognised with a group of strangers.
There have been attempts so far by students to address these concerns, including a change.org petition which has been started to try and get a change to a more conventional graduation ceremony. Thus far, almost 4,000 students have signed the petition, showing the overwhelming feeling of annoyance and dismay that students graduating this year are feeling towards the new graduation process.
Whether anything can or will be done to address students’ concerns is currently unclear, with no formal response from the university as of yet. What is clear is that the disruptions of coronavirus on university students are still ongoing, despite an end to the pandemic being in sight.Victoria Witts Comment