Class of 2020 petition for physical graduation

The University today announced plans to hold online graduation ceremonies in July after their success for MBBS students

Rebecca Johnson
21st May 2020
Image: Newcastle University

A petition is sweeping social media asking Newcastle University for a firm commitment to ensuring that the class of 2020 receive a physical graduation.

The petition comes after students received an email from the Academic Registrar on 21 May stating that there were plans to hold online graduation ceremonies in July after their success for MBBS students. However, the email also stated that provisional plans for physical ceremonies in November and December of this year were now looking “unlikely” due to social distancing.

It went on to say that they were still “hoping” to offer the chance of on-campus ceremonies in the next academic year, but only if it was safe to do so.

The petition was started by History and Politics student Lydia Rigby and her friends. Asked about why they created it, she said, “All students look forward to their graduation day it’s almost like their reward for three years of hard work. It’s a time to spend time with your family and friends and it’s like the first day of the rest of your life and it looks like the university wants to deny us that.

“The 2020 cohort has been through a lot with the pandemic and strike action taking so much from us in our final year. All we want is an assurance from the university that we will get a graduation day at some stage in the future.”

At the time of writing (12:30pm on 21 May) the petition has over 400 signatures, but this is rising rapidly. You can view the petition here.

An email later sent by the University at 2pm clarified:

"Further to the message we sent out this morning, there appears to be some confusion over the University’s plans for graduations in summer 2020 and my apologies for this. The physical graduation ceremonies cannot take place due to the current restrictions on social distancing and we are therefore planning to have virtual graduation ceremonies in July.

"Just to clarify, we still intend to offer the class of 2020 the chance of a physical graduation ceremony on campus when this is possible.

"The Chief Medical Officer has indicated that social distancing is likely to continue for the rest of the calendar year so, unfortunately, we cannot say when in the next academic year this will take place.  However, it is unlikely to happen before the New Year.

"The graduation ceremonies are the highlight of our academic year – for both students and staff - and we are all disappointed by the current situation.  We will work hard to ensure the virtual ceremonies are as special and celebratory as they can be and will keep you updated as soon as we can on plans for an on-campus graduation as the restrictions ease."

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