‘All my motivation has disappeared’: Soton students react to graduation being postponed

Many students feel the decision has been made prematurely

Fancy outfits, long black gowns and hundreds of photos being taken. Graduation is a day that many of us have been envisioning ever since we decided to come to university. But 2020 and 2021 graduates won’t have the same experience due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Soton university announced on Friday that they would be postponing the 2021 graduation ceremonies. The news, whilst expected by many, has left a number of students feeling upset, confused and annoyed. The Soton Tab spoke to students on Instagram to find out their reactions to the news.

‘It’s too early to say they’re postponing’

Most people responded to the Instagram call out expressing their confusion as to why the decision has been made this early on. One student said: “Everything changes very quickly. With the vaccine rollout going well I don’t understand why they couldn’t have waited until April to decide.”

Another student told us: “It’s too pre-emptive. They could have at least waited to see the path the government are announcing about easing lockdown restrictions. Unless they know something we don’t.”

It’s easy to see why people are annoyed, especially given the uni are making plans to have more people return to campus in April. Hannah, a fourth year student, told the Soton Tab: “How come we are anticipating a return to campus after the Easter break but we can’t have a summer or winter graduation ceremony? Makes no sense.”

‘I’m heartbroken – feels like all my motivation has disappeared because what’s the point?’

Sophie, a third year Pharmacology student, found out about graduation from a lecturer before the announcement told the Soton Tab: “It really hurt because my whole motivation since Covid started has been working for my graduation. The email didn’t really seem that compassionate given the situation so I’m a bit deflated really.

“The certainty the lecturer said it with made it seem like the uni made the decision ages ago and neglected to tell anyone.”

‘I’m disappointed but not surprised’

Another common theme amongst the responses were students telling us they were “gutted”, “disappointed” and “sad” but that the decision was also “sensible”, “expected” and “unsurprising”.

One student said: “At least we know where we stand. Can’t say I’m thrilled they didn’t wait until at least Boris’s announcement, but at least they won’t be cancelling it last minute.”

‘Give us our money back’

One student expressed their anger, saying: “Third years have had half a uni experience and we should get our money back. This is not what I signed up for and it’s not worth the money.”

Another student told the Soton Tab: “Our degrees somehow became even less value for money.”

A University of Southampton spokesperson told the Soton Tab:

“Following the announcement of the government’s roadmap for easing current COVID-19 restrictions, we continue to plan for a safe, gradual return to campus for our students and staff. This will take place over an extended period, with the utmost care taken to ensure our campuses are COVID-secure.

“We regret having to postpone our 2021 Graduation as we understand how important it is to our students and their families and we are proud to celebrate our students’ successes with them each year. Graduation is a complex event requiring a great deal of planning in advance. Ensuring it is held safely is a top priority and while it is hoped under government plans that larger social gatherings may be possible by late June, there are many targets to be met before then and we do not have confirmation that social distancing will not be a feature of the ongoing restrictions, which would have the effect of reducing capacity significantly.

“We plan to invite students to our online celebrations in late summer, or the autumn, and also intend to invite students to a future Graduation ceremony to celebrate in-person as soon as it is safe to do so.”

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