Graduation Ceremonies

Graduations: behind the screens


The Chancellor presented almost 900 graduates with their degree certificates


Many of you will have attended one of the seven award ceremonies which took place at the Assembly Rooms this week, or you may have watched the video showing some of the behind-the-scenes activity.

Nearly 900 graduates received their degree certificates and celebrated their achievements with more than 2,000 friends and family members over the course of two days.

So, just how do they all end up in the right place, at the right time, with the correct degree certificate?

For the December ceremonies, the process starts back in September, when the Student Records & Examinations Office (SREO) sends out invitations to all students who will potentially be eligible to receive their certificates in December (around 1,900 this year).

Meanwhile, academic and support staff in the academic Departments, and the Faculties/School work hard to mark work, agree results and approve awards at meetings of Boards of Examiners, Programme Boards and the Boards of Studies – with some awards approved only a few days before the first ceremonies take place.

As the pass lists come in and students reply to their invitations, SREO starts to finalise lists of graduands; these in turn enable seating plans, tickets, the degree ceremonies brochure and degree certificates to be created, together with the ‘script’ for the Chancellor and the presenters (usually the Deans) to use on stage during the ceremonies.

This year close to 400 visa letters were also generated in order to enable graduands and their families from overseas to attend.

SREO works closely with Print Services throughout the build-up to the ceremonies: this year 1,638 certificates were printed, stamped with the University seal and put into their folders within a 48-hour period, and the brochures were printed less than a week before the first ceremonies took place. Operating to these tight timescales is hard work, but it means that as many graduands as possible can be given the opportunity to attend a ceremony and receive their certificates in December rather than having to wait until the following summer.

After they have been checked, double-checked and triple-checked(!), the lists, tickets, brochures and certificates are carefully boxed up in the right order to enable graduates to register and collect their tickets easily on the day of the ceremony and, most importantly, to make sure that as each graduate walks onto the stage, the Dean reads out the right name and the correct certificate is handed over.

The two days of the ceremonies are certainly demanding for everyone involved in their smooth running but, as the culmination of a lot of concentrated teamwork, both within SREO and with so many colleagues in different parts of the University, they are also very rewarding, and the SREO team greatly enjoys at last being able to put faces to the hundreds of names they have checked so many times.