Breaking: Exeter University postpones all graduation ceremonies until summer 2022

‘We cannot deliver in-person graduation ceremonies as we would have wished this summer’

Exeter University has announced in an email to students this morning that all graduation ceremonies, including the class of 2020 and 2021, will be postponed until summer 2022.

Ian Blenkharn, Director of Education and Student Support at Exeter, said in the email: “We know how much graduation means and that it is an important milestone, recognising your considerable achievements as you complete your studies with us.

“It is also a time to celebrate with friends and loved ones and look forward to the next chapter in your lives.”

The email said that whilst the Covid-19 situation in the UK has improved, “the global situation has not with major new outbreaks across Europe, India and in South America”, which means “it is likely that quarantine arrangements for those arriving into the UK will still remain in place this summer”.

The email noted: “This will make it very difficult for any graduate living overseas, and their loved ones, to attend an in-person graduation”.

The email continued, saying: “It is not possible to plan any large-scale in-person events with any certainty because while COVID-19 restrictions are beginning to lift in the UK, the Government’s roadmap is cautious and there can be no guarantees that further restrictions will have been lifted by the summer”.

The email referred to the survey taken by final year students which Ian Blenkharn said “did not show a clear preference for either option across the 2020/21 cohorts, therefore we have decided on alternative arrangements for the 2021 graduation cohort for this summer”.

He continued: “Our priority at all times must be the health and safety of our staff, students and their loved ones and therefore, regrettably, this means we cannot deliver in-person graduation ceremonies as we would have wished this summer.

“You have told us how important it is for you and your loved ones to be able to take part in a physical ceremony and so we are rescheduling the graduation ceremonies for our 2020 and 2021 graduates to take place in the summer of 2022. We can then all come together next year for what will be a traditional, full graduation experience to celebrate your success, should the pandemic permit”.

“Graduating from the University of Exeter is a real achievement – even more so this year given the unprecedented challenges posed by the global pandemic”.

Despite the postponement of graduation ceremonies, students will be able to take part in “small, COVID-safe on campus events during late June/July” where they can “wear your graduation gown, take photos with your classmates and take part in socially distanced celebratory events”.

The email also said the university will host a virtual conferment event in July, to formally confer degrees to everyone who has achieved one.

Concluding the email, Ian Blenkharn said: “We hope this arrangement recognises the wishes of many 2021 graduates to have an in-person event this year, which many students voted for, whilst also committing to a full graduation ceremony with friends and family at a later date. This also ensures that the University is aligned with the safety and travel advice of local and national health bodies in the current circumstances.

“As ever, we are grateful to everyone for your ongoing understanding and support as we continue to adapt to what are very challenging circumstances for us all”.