UEA’s Vice Chancellor has said graduation ceremonies will take place, a week after he told students they were cancelled. Prof David Richardson previously said: “Our Graduation ceremonies involve thousands of people travelling to campus from across the globe, and as the COVID-19 pandemic develops it would not be appropriate to hold such an event – for the safety of our staff, students and their guests.”
But in a meeting with SU officers yesterday the Vice Chancellor confirmed the ceremonies would go ahead at a later date. Alicia Perez, Activities and Opportunities officer at Uea(su), said: “He said that there will be graduation ceremonies for this year’s students but they don’t know when or how as things are still uncertain.”
She added: “From an SU perspective it’s so comforting knowing that students will be able to have their graduation ceremonies as everyone else has in the past.”
The University’s initial announcement of the cancellation prompted more than 3,500 students to sign a petition calling for their reinstatement in less than 24 hours.
Beth Bloomfield, 20, a third year economics students, started the petition. She said: “Final year students have lost the last months of their university experience as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and now our Graduation ceremony is at risk too.
“Lots of universities are in the process of rescheduling Graduation ceremonies for late 2020. Final year students at the University of East Anglia, however, have been advised that they will “explore if there are options in the future to mark and celebrate our hard work”.
“We understand the necessity of postponing our graduation ceremony, however, we feel every University student who has paid their fees and worked hard deserves a Graduation ceremony. We want to celebrate our successes with our family and friends, especially because the last few months of our final year didn’t go to plan.
“This petition asks for the Vice-Chancellor to guarantee us a Graduation ceremony- we’ve worked too hard for our degrees to be merely posted to us without any form of further recognition or celebration.”
Helen Pentelow, one of the petition’s supporters and the mother of a UEA student, said: “There is absolutely no reason why they can’t re-arrange [the ceremonies] at a later date”.
Freya Tan, a third year business management student wrote: “I deserve to celebrate 3 years of blood, sweat, and tears”, while English and Drama student Alexander Grauwiler said: “Between snow, strikes, and now virus. No University year group has lost as much from their University experience as current third years. If you’re not going to refund us for our time lost the least you can do is ensure we will get an actual graduation.”
In a statement the Vice Chancellor said: “The safety of all our students and staff is the priority at this time but I want to assure you that I fully appreciate that a ceremony is an important event for you and your family and friends”.
The University has not yet confirmed when the rearranged graduation ceremonies will take place.