‘Chaos, absolute chaos’: Cardiff students on last week’s graduation events

‘It was extremely dissapointing’


Last week Cardiff University held a graduation not only for this year’s cohort of students but also for the graduates of 2020 and 2021 who missed out on having a graduation ceremony due to the Coronavirus pandemic. This meant that three year groups were all attending the same graduation event over a three day period.

Whilst some were pleased with the day overall, many graduates came forward expressing their displeasure with their graduation, with reports that queues to collect gowns were so long that the events had to be pushed back to hour long waits to take previously booked photos.

The Tab Cardiff spoke to graduates who attended last week’s celebrations and this is what they had to say:

‘It felt like it was a celebration of the uni, not the students who were graduating’

Lauren, a Human Geography graduate told The Tab Cardiff her previously booked photography slot did not matter and she had to join a long queue before her individual ceremony later that day. Although she thought she had plenty of time, she ended up sprinting with her parents in heels due to the length of the queue.

She said: “It was a quick 10 minute ceremony. They pronounced my friend’s name wrong despite the phonetic spelling being right below.”

As for the celebration at Principality Lauren said: “It felt like it was a celebration of the uni, not the students who were graduating.”

‘The recognition events were not special at all’

Kate*, graduating from the School of History said: “Graduation Gardens were absolute chaos and I couldn’t find any of my friends. I didn’t get to see anyone from my course or any lecturers.”

‘It felt like the actual ceremony was more dedicated to honorary fellows than students’

Although Sammy, an English Literature and Creative Writing graduate, agreed the ceremony did not feel as though it was for the students themselves, saying: “It felt like the actual ceremony was more dedicated to honorary fellows than students.”

She did add: “The rest of the day was enjoyable, I liked the Graduation Gardens.”

‘The only part of the ceremony that actually felt like a celebration was the the band was playing’

Will*, a Law graduate, experienced similar discontent with the individual ceremonies, saying they were “pointless”.

He said: “Individual recognition events were at 10 am, but we were ushered out the second it was over so they could get another group in the hall like it was a factory line.

“We got told there would be a chance to talk to staff members we knew from the past few years at the Graduation Gardens but none turned up.”

‘The Principality event was awful’

Tiam, an Optometry graduate branded the graduation event at the Principality Stadium as “awful”.

They did add, however: “The recognition event my school ran was great, it was really worth it.

“It was really the Principality Stadium that let us down, even our parents were messaging us expressing their dissatisfaction and boredom.”

‘It was extremely disappointing’

Amira, a Psychology graduate said: “It was extremely disappointing. I only had 15 minutes in the gardens just because of the queues.”

The grad student also expressed her annoyance with the price of the tickets for Principality Stadium event saying: “It was a waste of money.”

‘It made me very stressed’

Millie* who studied Sociology said: “I enjoyed the school recognition event, though if it had just had been the event at the Principality Stadium it would have been a bit disappointing.

“Luckily my ceremony was before the photos but it did make me very stressed.”

‘It felt like Thorpe Park if you doubled the queues and had no rides at the end of them’

Seb, an English Literature graduate, concluded that the graduation was exciting but disappointing, saying: “It felt like Thorpe Park if you doubled the queues and had no rides at the end of them.”

‘I wish recognition was later in the day’

Jemma, a Psychology graduate, also expressed discontent with the timing: “Unfortunately, I had just missed the recognition event on the walk back from city hall which is a shame as I heard from many in my cohort that this was actually their most favourite event.”

On the day of the event, Cardiff University posted an apology to its Facebook page: “We apologise that some of our students are experiencing delays in collecting their gowns today. We are working hard with our supplier to solve the issue as a matter of urgency.”

A spokesperson for Cardiff University said: “Cardiff University welcomes feedback and comments, from graduates and their guests, on Graduation 2022. We adopted a new format for 2022 to fulfil our promise to offer an in-person Graduation ceremony, as soon as we were able to, to those who had missed this experience as a result of the pandemic. Whilst we recognise that some may not have enjoyed the format, or have experienced difficulties which we do not wish to trivialise, the feedback received thus far has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We recognise that many graduates on Thursday experienced long delays in accessing gowns and photography provided by an external supplier. We remain very disappointed by this. The University responded to this situation by postponing and organising additional recognition events and being flexible with entry to Graduation Gardens. We have begun a review of the difficulties faced and will be working with our partner to understand why there were delays.”

For further information on how to give feedback and complaints, visit the Cardiff University website.

Recommended articles by this writer:

• Cardiff University announces changes to the format of upcoming graduation ceremonies

• We spoke to Cardiff students about how they feel about the upcoming graduation

• Cardiff University has released Graduation Day plans for the Class of 2020, 2021, and 2022 

*Names have been changed to preserve anonymity.