UEA students question graduation ceremony postponement

The mortar boards fly at UEA graduation ceremony in 2016. 

The mortar boards fly at UEA graduation ceremony in 2016. - Credit: Denise Bradley

The University of East Anglia (UEA) has defended its decision to delay its graduation ceremony to 2022 after students described the decision as "premature". 

A spokeswoman for the university said the decision was "not taken lightly" after a cohort of social work students called for the decision, which was made in March, to be reconsidered. 

Speaking on behalf of the cohort, third-year student Chelsea Hardesty questioned why a scaled down ceremony could not take place this year with the government roadmap and vaccination rollout progressing well. 

University Drive is the main road through the UEA campus in Norwich. Picture: Denise Bradley

The University of East Anglia has postponed this year's graduation ceremony to 2022 - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

The 23-year-old, who lives in Hellesdon, fears her grandad who has been suffering with a blood clot, and countless other relatives, will miss out if the ceremony is delayed. 

Miss Hardesty said: "I would be happy to have an outside marquee with social distancing, taking a lateral flow test, which they offer on campus anyway.

"We are seeing trials with mass events at Wembley for instance, so the fact they did not wait until now seems a premature." 

Students at UEA

Students on campus at the UEA before the pandemic - Credit: UEA

The student, who wrote a letter to the university on behalf of her cohort of 30, said she has friends at Cambridge and the Fashion Retail Academy in London who are graduating this year. 

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She also referred to graduations going ahead in person this summer at Liverpool and Loughborough. 

A spokeswoman for the UEA said the decision was taken after consulting with the ueasu student representatives and considering all alternative options.

She added: "We reviewed whether the graduation we were hoping to hold would have been available to all our students, including those looking to travel back to Norwich and whether we could wait for the government guidance on events due to be issued in June.

“On balance it was felt it would be better to take the decision now rather than wait longer and cause greater disappointment and inconvenience nearer the time. 

"The university’s specific concerns were centred on people’s safety before and during the event in addition to how people could travel safely to the venue from both within the UK and overseas."

"The university does wish for all students to be able to celebrate their graduation in the way they would wish in 2022 and fully recognises that this is a special key moment for our students and graduates.”