Our Graduation ceremonies are the highlight of the University’s academic year. They are rightly the culmination of our staff and students’ hard work and an important opportunity for us to celebrate their achievements with our graduates’ friends and family.
We had to take the difficult decision last year to postpone our Summer and Winter 2020 ceremonies. We had hoped that we would be able to run Graduation ceremonies in July 2021 for our 2020 and 2021 graduates from around the world. We wanted to keep open the possibility of ceremonies taking place for as long as possible.
We are proud of all our graduates and believe strongly that they deserve an amazing Graduation event. We are also committed to keeping them and their loved ones safe during the difficult circumstances of the pandemic. After considering all possible options for COVID-safe precautions, we have concluded that, at this stage of the pandemic, we cannot yet proceed with confidence to offer Graduation ceremonies in July 2021. We remain fully committed to inviting both our 2020 and 2021 graduates to celebrate at an in-person ceremony when it is safe to do so and when we are confident we can deliver the best possible event.
The viability of running Graduation ceremonies in July 2021 has been based on the need to balance three broad factors: safety, quality and deliverability.
On 22 February 2021, the Government published its roadmap for moving out of the national lockdown that has been in place since Christmas 2020. The roadmap sets out a series of steps with a gradual lifting of restrictions, which will be invoked subject to data related to infection levels. The roadmap makes clear the Government’s desire for most social restrictions to be lifted by 21 June 2021 at the earliest.
If restrictions were lifted in the UK as set out in the roadmap, it may be possible to hold in-person ceremonies in July 2021. However, a decision on the restrictions will not be taken in time to allow adequate time to plan and operate viable ceremonies, particularly ensuring our graduates are able to book tickets and make arrangements to attend. This is especially relevant to one third of our students whose families are not UK based and could be planning international travel (where possible) to attend with their loved ones. It would be unfair to make last minute arrangements which could prevent this large group of our graduates from joining the celebrations.
In light of the decision about July 2021, we are working on plans for alternative arrangements to celebrate the achievements of our students who graduate this summer. While we know alternative plans can never replace the special nature of our ceremonies, we want an opportunity to recognise their achievements and for us to wish them well for the future until we can reschedule our in-person ceremonies. The Graduation team is working with Departments and Schools and Professional Services team to develop the plans.
We are currently reviewing options for running ceremonies later than July 2021. We will ensure that our plans comply with Government guidelines and take account of the trajectory of the COVID-19 virus. At the moment, the next potential date for in-person ceremonies is September 2021. We plan to take a final decision on the feasibility of this option by the end of May 2021 at the latest.
If September 2021 ceremonies are not possible, we are already looking at other options, including the possibility of a Winter Graduation event in December 2021, subject to any continuing COVID-19 restrictions. We are also exploring the possibility for additional ceremonies in April 2022 alongside our July 2022 Graduation event.
Although July ceremonies will not take place, all our students eligible to graduate this summer will have their awards conferred as expected and they will have access to their certificates and transcripts this summer. Any queries relating to award documents can be directed to our dedicated address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will be in touch with an update when we have more news. In the meantime, please keep an eye on our Graduation webpages and contact the Graduation team if you have any questions at email@example.com,
I wish all our students eligible to graduate in 2021 the very best. We look forward to our community coming together when we can to celebrate their achievements.