An update on Graduation ceremonies

On Thursday 4 Feb 2021 we received a response from the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, regarding graduations for the class of 2020.

On Monday 1 Feb 2021 we wrote about the university's proposal of holding virtual graduations for the class of 2020, as well as the fact that students were not contacted directly and that there was no consultation with the Students’ Union on the options available for these cohorts.

Becky Thomson, Students’ Union President, met with key University stakeholders on Monday morning to express your strength of feeling on this issue, and to immediately look for a way forward.  As such, we are seeking the following urgent answers from the University:

  1. Confirmation that the class of 2020 will be offered options for either a virtual event this year, or to attend a physical ceremony in the future;

  2. Clarity regarding how this decision was made and communicated, and an apology for the distress caused to students and alumni;

  3. A commitment to ensuring that this does not happen again;

  4. Assurance and commitment that the student voice will be fully consulted, and actively engaged in decisions regarding all large scale student-facing events, whether in person or virtual; and

  5. Clarity as soon as possible on options for the graduating class of 2021, involving the Students’ Union in both decision-making and communication.

The response

On Thursday 4 Feb 2021 we received a response from the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, and we're publishing several key paragraphs.

"I would like to apologise for the unintentional, accidental and unfortunate error that led to students learning about virtual celebratory events on the University Student webpages at the weekend. This is a matter of sincere regret. In advance of publishing the details, we had planned to write to students later this week outlining our plans for virtual celebration events in May, with the offer of a reception on University campus once it is safe to do so."

We're glad that the university have apologised and appreciate that the manner in which students learnt of this decision was unnaceptable.

"I would also like to say I am sorry that we did not engage with the Students’ Union about the plans for virtual celebrations. This was a genuine oversight on the part of the University."

The students' union need to be involved in these decision and we have requested a review of the governance processes to ensure this doesn't happen again.

"I recognise that Graduation ceremonies are the pinnacle of the completion of a student’s academic journey, and very special occasions that provide an opportunity to celebrate the culmination of years of hard work with family and friends. In addition, Graduation days form an incredibly important part of the life of Canterbury Christ Church for all of us. As you state in your letter, the University listened to the student feedback and responded quickly. Students are being given the opportunity to graduate at a physical ceremony at a location and date to be confirmed in the future, when national guidance and venue ability allow. Or to graduate through an on-line ceremony in May 2021 and gather on campus to have a celebratory event when national guidance allows. We are working hard to secure additional days with Canterbury Cathedral, but there are a large number of students to graduate, and due to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, availability cannot be guaranteed. We may have to consider other venues."

We are pleased that students are being given the opportunity to have a physical graduation and that the university are looking to secure additional days at Canterbury Cathedral.

Thank you to Rama for his response and most importantly for appreciating that the student voice needs to be consulted and actively engaged in decisions such as these.

We look forward to more clarity and communication for future graduation ceremonies.


Contacts ( Becky Thomson) (Maddy Young) (Nathan Baker) (Beth Elwood)