A Russell Group uni isn’t reading out its grads’ names at graduation ceremonies this week

And the grads aren’t even getting a handshake on stage!!

A Russell Group university has decided to not read out the names of graduating students at its graduation ceremonies this week.

The University of Southampton has condensed all its graduation ceremonies for 2020, 2021 and 2022 into three days this week, and moved the ceremony from its usual location on the main Highfield Campus to the football stadium in Southampton’s city centre.

During the first day of graduation ceremonies, which began at 9am yesterday, students were dismayed to find out their names would not be read out during the ceremony and they would not be shaking anyone’s hand on stage.

A University of Southampton spokesperson told The Tab that due to the delayed graduations from 2020 and 2021, there are over 11,000 grads attending ceremonies across three days this week. “Unfortunately, due to the logistics of organising the high numbers involved and for the comfort of those watching, we have made some changes”, it said, including not reading out names or shaking hands.

Usually at a graduation ceremony, grads are assigned specific seats and are called across the stage by course one by one, with their names read out individually.

However at Southampton’s, grads simply sit anywhere within set zones with their course mates. An official reads out each course’s title, and all graduates from that subject walk one-by-one, in any order, across the stage.

Instead of shaking a university official’s hand, as usually happens at ceremonies, graduates on Wednesday had to pose in front of a blue photography background on the stage.

The stage

A camera shows the graduates as they walk along and pose in front of the background, and this is projected onto large screens on either side of the stage.

No one’s names are called out, but there is a scrolling list of names from everyone in that course, that is shown at the bottom of the screens. Graduates can walk on in any order, so it would be nearly impossible to attempt to walk across stage at the time your name is called.

Some grads ended up shaking each other’s hands on the screens, in lieu of an official handshake, or handing each other DIY diplomas made of rolled-up tickets. Many simply walked straight past the camera and did not stop to pose at all.

One of the screens showing the grads on stage

One Southampton graduate who had her ceremony on Wednesday told The Tab she was “really sad” to not have her name called out.

“I understand it was busy and a lot of people”, she said, but she feels “let down to miss such an important part of graduating”.

Another said: “Not sure why I waited a year for this.”

At the start of Thursday’s 1pm ceremony, which was live-streamed, a member of staff said “lots of people have told us lots of things” about the graduation ceremonies, and as such the uni has “slightly changed” the way grads will cross the stage.

Grads will still cross the stage one-by-one to the central point in front of the background, at which point their head of school will shake their hand. They will then continue crossing the stage and meet the uni’s Vice Chancellor at the end, and he will also shake the grad’s hand. However, names are still not being read out.

A University of Southampton spokesperson told The Tab: “Graduation is one of the most important dates for us in the University calendar and our teams work extremely hard to make it an exciting day which allows our students to celebrate their amazing achievements with friends and family.

“Regretfully, in 2020 and 2021, we couldn’t hold our graduation ceremonies in person, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but this year we were determined to make sure all those who missed out on an in-person ceremony would have the opportunity to experience this, alongside those graduating this year. As a result, the Summer 2022 Graduation is our biggest ever, with over 11,000 graduands attending across three days at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton.

“Unfortunately, due to the logistics of organising the high numbers involved and for the comfort of those watching, we have made some changes and are not able to read out the names and shake hands with every graduand as they pass across the stage. We apologise if this has caused disappointment for some, however, we have made sure all names are scrolled across the large screens in the stadium to recognise everyone’s considerable achievements and each student also has a photo opportunity.

“Indeed, the opportunity to process in friendship groups, rather than a predetermined order, has been a source of enjoyment for many and we have received lots of positive comments about the events. To ensure all our guests have a special time, we have also provided the opportunity for Faculty celebrations in different parts of the stadium, immediately after the event.”

Are you a graduate with a ceremony this year and have something you think we should know about? Email [email protected]

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