University students say moving graduation ceremony online like “a kick in the teeth”

The decision to move a graduation ceremony online for a group of students who were pulled into work for the NHS while still studying “feels like a massive kick in the teeth”.

More than 350 people have now signed a petition calling for Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) to reverse its decision to move the graduation ceremony of the class of 2020 online.

It was only after the petition was started that the university said it would no longer go ahead with the face-to-face graduation ceremony it had provisionally scheduled for October 11.

Georgia Loveys, who qualified as a midwife from ARU in Chelmsford last year, had her graduation ceremony postponed to July this year due to COVID-19.

Last week, her year group was told that graduation will now be an online ceremony – a decision she says feels even more galling given that the 2017 cohort had so many difficulties throughout their degrees anyway.

Georgia explained that they were the first midwifery cohort to have to pay £9,250 per year for the course and did not get a bursary. After the coronavirus crisis took hold in the final year, students were pulled into work for the NHS while still completing other university work and dissertations.

“It feels like a massive kick in the teeth,” added Georgia.

“They keep saying they’re so proud of us, but are they?

“We are the ones they should be shouting from the rooftops about saying they went into the hospitals and these who were the students who stepped up for us.”

A spokesman for ARU said: “Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is still unclear whether large-scale events will be able to go ahead as normal this summer, so we have made the difficult but necessary decision to move our July graduation ceremonies online.

“These ceremonies should originally have taken place last year.

“We appreciate that some of our Class of 2020 will be disappointed, but the safety of the thousands of graduands, their friends and families, and ARU staff is our primary concern, and these virtual ceremonies guarantee that everyone will be able to graduate this summer, regardless of health concerns or international travel restrictions.

“When Government guidelines allow, and it is safe to do so, we look forward to inviting the Class of 2020 and their families for a reunion on campus, so we can celebrate together, in person.

“The graduation ceremonies scheduled for October, for students due to complete their studies this year, are also being kept under review.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter