Cambridge University resumes in-person graduation ceremonies

Cambridge University has resumed in-person graduation ceremonies for the first time since February 2020, before the first national coronavirus lockdown.

Students from 29 colleges will graduate over four days at the 18th-century Senate House, in ceremonies known as General Admission to Degrees.

The prestigious institution said that the ceremonies, starting on Wednesday, have been carefully orchestrated in accordance with social distancing rules for higher education institutions.

They were organised in consultation with the university’s safety advisers and Cambridge City Council.

University of Cambridge graduation ceremony
Students take part in the Vice-Chancellor’s procession, from King’s College to Senate House, ahead of a graduation ceremony at the University of Cambridge (Joe Giddens/ PA)

Other measures include strict limits on numbers inside the Senate House at one time, maximum ventilation with face coverings worn indoors and students queuing outside before graduating.

Family and friends who would normally attend have been invited to watch the ceremonies, conducted in Latin and in full academic dress, on a private livestream link.

It is the first time in the university’s 800-year history that the ceremonies have been livestreamed online.

Catherine Fage, head of operations for education services at Cambridge, said: “Recognising that guests could not be physically present in Senate House, we wanted to try to make it possible for family and friends to be able to view the ceremony and still take part virtually.”

The university said it recognised the “importance of celebrating the remarkable achievements of our students in a fitting manner that keeps most of the elements of the traditional ceremony while incorporating the necessary precautions”.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor Graham Virgo said: “Our students have worked incredibly hard and shown resilience and responsibility in their approach to the Covid-19 restrictions.

University of Cambridge graduation ceremony
The prestigious institution has resumed in-person graduation ceremonies for the first time since February 2020 (Joe Giddens/ PA)

“I congratulate them all on their successes, and wish them well for the future.”

Ceremonies normally take place at intervals throughout the year at Cambridge University.

While many universities have postponed in-person graduation ceremonies until 2022, Cambridge is not the first university to resume them.

The University of Worcester held in-person graduation ceremonies earlier this month.

Oxford University said on its website that it took the “difficult decision to postpone degree ceremonies between May 2020 and August 2021 due to Covid-19”.

It said that “given the improving situation with regard to the pandemic, we plan to host ceremonies from September”.