Protests and fake degrees: Everything that’s gone down at this summer’s graduations so far
Thousands of students across the country are graduating without their final grades due to the ongoing marking boycott
This uni year has been marred by strikes – first students missed weeks’ worth of lectures as university staff went on strike, and now the ongoing marking boycott has meant many are still waiting to find out if they’ve even got a degree. And now graduation season has rolled around, and unis are scrambling for what to do. Manchester and Sheffield are dishing out £500 in compensation to students who are graduating without finding their actual degree grades, but students have called this “laughable” and “not worth it”.
Now, students are fighting back against the universities handling of the marking boycott and the issue of graduations, with protests over the “fake degrees” being given out and university platitudes. Universities like Edinburgh, Durham and Glasgow have already had their graduations, with most of the Russell Group’s ceremonies due in the coming weeks.
Here’s all the chaos and student protests that this summer’s graduations have seen – so far:
Students have been given ‘fake degrees’
Around the country, students are graduating without knowing their actual degree grades, so are being given temporary certificates that don’t show an actual classification. One Glasgow sociology graduate told The Tab how “heartbreaking” it was to receive an unclassified degree, calling the situation a “kick to the teeth”.
Katie, a Glasgow student graduating with her bachelor’s in law, said how her graduation was filled with “mixed emotions”. She said: “Not knowing my degree classification slightly taints my experience as I am still anxiously awaiting results”.
‘An apology letter filled with platitudes’
One Edinburgh student made a speech at one of the uni’s graduation ceremonies about the “apology letter” they’ve received instead of their degree. “As I stand here with four years of work behind me, I do not hold a degree in my hand”, Alex Mohan Morzeria-Davis said, “Instead, I hold an apology letter filled with platitudes and a list of courses with the letters ‘TBC’ instead of a mark next to them.”
This was met with loud cheering and applause, as well as a standing ovation from students in the graduation hall. Alex continued: “It would not be right to stand here and not acknowledge the hard work of staff who have been fighting for no more than the bare minimum – fair treatment and fair pay.
“So, to my tutors and the professional staff that support them, thank you. I have been working on behalf of the student body all year, and please know that we all back you. To the management of this university – shame on you for not acting appropriately.”
Graduates held signs as they crossed the stage
One Edinburgh student walked across a stage holding a banner reading: “For us, housing crisis and empty degrees. For you, a £43k pay increase!” Earlier this term it was reported that Edinburgh’s Vice Chancellor, Sir Peter Mathieson, received a pay rise of £43,000 and now earns an annual salary of £406,000.
Hebe, an Edinburgh grad who was at the ceremony, told The Tab the student’s banner was followed by the crowd cheering and applauding “for probably a whole minute”. She said the majority of students “refused to be ‘tapped’ as part of their graduation, and a LOT of students wore [pink UCU] sashes” and held them up as they crossed the stage.
“It was epic”, she said. “Very proud of my fellow PPLS alumni for supporting the UCU striking staff.”
Students and staff protested at Edinburgh, where 2,000 are graduating without any degree
Up to 2,000 Edinburgh students this year will graduate without marks, the uni’s Vice Chancellor has said, due to the UCU marking and assessment boycott.
During Edinburgh graduations, hundreds of staff, students and families protested against the uni’s response to the boycott. They held signs about the “fake graduations”, chanting in support of the UCU and calling on the university to “renegotiate”.
At Edinburgh’s first ceremony of 2023, the university’s Vice Principal apologised for the fact the uni “couldn’t resolve the issues in time” for all students, saying he “regrets” that students are still missing degrees.
And one uni edited out a student’s protest from their graduation video
Top Scottish university Stirling was accused of trying to “silence” one of its students after a recording of their graduation ceremony was edited to remove their protest against the university’s handing of the marking and assessment boycott.
Student Ludovico Caminati Engström crossed the stage wearing a pink sash in support of the UCU striking members, but this was swiftly edited out of the recording which was uploaded to the university’s website the following day. The university was forced to apologise, saying it was published “in error”, and reinstated the full, unedited, video.
Graduating students were then pictured wearing sashes and holding signs saying “You can’t cut us all out.”