The University of York have confirmed that only an online graduation will be available for students completing their courses this year, even if restrictions lift to the extent that an in person event would be allowed.
The graduation services this year will be held between 25 and 27 August, a full two months after the government’s current plans to end England’s restrictions by 21 June at the earliest.
However, while they tell Vision that they are “disappointed that we can’t celebrate with our students in the usual way”, the University have promised a “series of celebratory events in 2022”.
York are not alone in taking this decision – they will join the ranks of other Russell groups, such as UCL, Liverpool, and Newcastle to at least postpone any potential of events until the next year.
University of York Student Union (YUSU) President Patrick O’Donnell, however, remains hopeful that graduation events may still go ahead in some form, telling Vision that he has: “formally asked the University to explore options for outdoor events this summer in smaller groups (such as academic departments) and I await the formation of a University planning group to drive this forward.”
However, a University of York spokesperson told Vision that: “The uncertainty around summer restrictions, and the need for families to be able to plan their travel to York or the UK at a time when travel restrictions may still be in place, meant that an online graduation ceremony was the most responsible way of keeping our students, staff, and visitors safe.
“We are disappointed that we can’t celebrate with our students in the usual way, but we are looking forward to a series of celebratory events in 2022.
“The safety and wellbeing of our staff, graduating students and their friends, family and supporters remains of paramount importance.”
Following this comment, O’Donnell told Vision that: “I share the disappointment of many students regarding the University’s announcement, especially as my own graduation was cancelled last summer. From speaking to a number of other SU Presidents, including Durham, Bristol and Edinburgh, I’m not aware of any other Russell Group university holding graduations this summer. However, given the huge challenges of the past year, I am determined to make sure that final year students have a safe opportunity to celebrate their achievements this summer and see their friends.
“While we may not be able to have 1000s of people packed into Central Hall, we are very lucky to have so many green spaces on campus and I hope to work with the University to think really creatively about how we can best use our marquees and open spaces to facilitate safe celebrations. As such, I’ve formally asked the University to explore options for outdoor events this summer in smaller groups (such as academic departments) and I await the formation of a University planning group to drive this forward.
“It’s worth bearing in mind that there will still be likely disruption to international travel this summer. Some international students and their families may need to quarantine at significant expense (£1750 per person), and as such, it’s really important that we have at least two opportunities to celebrate. Nevertheless, if the Government’s roadmap to loosening restrictions continues as planned, I am confident that the first of these two opportunities (albeit in a different way) will be this summer.”