[Laura Noakes | Deputy Editor]
After a change in graduation dates, midwifery and other allied health students have been told they are not going to graduate at the historic St Albans Abbey, where the majority of students have their graduation ceremony, but in the Weston Auditorium at De Havilland Campus.
Anne Austin, Assistant Registrar (Exams and Awards) stated that the reason for this change was, “the obvious factor of a warmer month of September” and, “it was also recognised that holding the ceremonies shortly after the majority of students’ Examination Boards may improve the employability prospects of graduates.”
Anne Austin adds,
“this view was endorsed by the Student Union who canvassed student opinion and 85% of course representatives reported that their students preferred moving the ceremonies forward.”
However, many students affected by this decision are disappointed and an online petition has been started by Shannon Wheeler, a third year midwifery student, to try and get the graduation ceremony moved to St Albans Abbey. The petition currently has over 1000 signatures.
Shannon states, “we are all feeling disappointed and slightly cheated about the change in graduation ceremony. We were told when we applied to the university that we would graduate the same year at the Abbey. The reason why I started the petition was to highlight how many people disagree with the change.”
She adds that the, “the response so far from the exam office was that it was a decision made by the senior members of the University including the Vice Chancellor to move the ceremonies to September.”
However, the allied health professions exam board process is also in September, meaning that they cannot graduate that month. Instead, a graduation ceremony has been arranged for December at De Havilland campus.
If this is unacceptable to students, there has been an offer to graduate at St Albans in September 2016. Shannon states that graduating a year late is “unacceptable and unfair.”
Anne Austin explained, “It is not possible to use the Abbey in December due to Christmas celebrations and graduate numbers are not sufficient to make this a feasible venue.”
Shannon feels that, “they have not thought about us as students which goes against the university missions and values,” and states that she is, “yet to have a response from the Dean of the School and the Vice Chancellor.”
Other students have also shown their support for the students who have been affected by this change. Hannah Gladwell, a third year Law student states, “after years of hard work, just because their course finishes later than other courses shouldn’t mean this tradition is not followed. It’s not going to be memorable if they are graduating in a lecture theatre in De Hav!”
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