Why don’t Newcastle graduates wear caps?

It’s all linked to tradition

Why we aren’t allowed to wear mortarboards at graduation

As you peruse through the countless graduation pics up on the net at the moment, you’ll notice something unusual about your likely-to-be sexy, fun best friend who has managed to gain a degree from the Toon.

In contrast to pretty much all other uni grad photos, they’ll be lacking a lid on their head that makes them look like a Victorian school teacher, known as a mortarboard.

Standard Newcastle gown-throwing graduation photo.


So what is it that stops us from sporting such a special headpiece on our sparkly occasion?

Well, of course, it’s to do with tradition. Newcastle had originally started as a division and then later a college of Durham University teaching mainly medical and scientific subjects.

As the Toon division outpaced Durham in scientific research, rising tensions between the universities probably rivaling a Geordie Shore scrap eventually led to the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne being founded in 1963 which later became Newcastle University. So we went all 4th of July, and gained independence from Dullham.

According to the university website, the legend reads that “Newcastle students celebrated freedom by throwing their traditional hats in to the River Tyne”, in a valiant act of defiance to their predecessors.

However, it’s rumored in Geordie legend that it was in fact the hats of Durham students that were pinched and chucked in the water. Either way, this kick-started the deprivation of head gear at Newc graduations.

River Tyne. Full of hat-fish.


Despite the strong sense of history, the lack of hat creates a mixed reception among Newcastle degree holders. Clare Bond, Architecture graduate, said: “Combining a hat with the gown takes you from Harry Potter wannabe to sophisticated graduate.”

“I do appreciate the tradition, but not as much as I want the hat. It was also a hot day and I missed out on much-needed sun protection.”

Adding to the dis-hat-isfaction, another architecture grad Jess Barton said:  “I could still have had the flowing, luscious grad hair that I had during my hatless day with a lid on my head. I wanted to rock the hat.”


However, Geography graduate Ben Clink said: “It was one less thing to pay for or worry about. Plus, we got one for our official pic with the scroll, so it was the best of both worlds.”

It probably won’t be long until we start wearing snapbacks in honour of Scotty T’s contribution to uni nights out.