11 September 2020

UC students get their graduation day in the sun

| Michael Weaver
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University of Canberra student with mortarboard and robe.

Students at the University of Canberra will be able to mark their graduation without a formal ceremony. Photo: Supplied.

With schools in Canberra this week being given the go-ahead to hold end-of-year formals for their graduating students, the University of Canberra (UC) has also moved to ensure their 2020 graduates can commemorate the occasion with family and friends.

The university will offer professional photography sessions for both those students who graduated in March 2020 and those graduating in September, with up to four family members or friends in a group. The sessions will run from 12 to 17 October, with dedicated days for each faculty.

UC vice-chancellor and president Paddy Nixon said the physically distanced professional photoshoots in full graduation regalia will give students the opportunity to mark this important achievement with the people that matter most to them.

“While we cannot hold a large-scale graduation ceremony this year, we want to make sure our students have a keepsake of this momentous occasion, and the opportunity to throw their mortarboards in the air with pride,” Professor Nixon said.

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Students will be provided with the loan of a mortarboard and gown for free, and will be able to book professional photos for same-day collection, take free photobooth shots and then spend a couple of hours taking their own photos around campus. A roaming social photographer will also be snapping memories throughout the day. Students will also be able to collect their testamurs and transcripts on the day.

Due to graduate in September with a Bachelor of Politics and International Relations with the aim of becoming a policy or legal adviser, Canberran Nikoleta Tsakmaklis said she was delighted the university was giving students the opportunity to commemorate their hard work.

“I’m very happy and proud that our university is doing this and that we can at least have a photo keepsake with our family and friends,” Nikoleta said. “Of course, I would like to take part in a graduation ceremony, but I’m sure the university has worked really hard to put this in place for us.

“I’ll definitely feel a lot safer that the university is thinking about how to mark the occasion and putting our health and safety first.”

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UC’s academic vice-chancellor Professor Geoff Crisp said 2900 students who were due to graduate in March and a further 1500 in September will be offered the opportunity next month.

“The mortarboards and gowns provided will be single-use only, and each graduate can take their own mortarboard home,” Professor Crisp said.

“The vice-chancellor and senior executives will be roaming the university in their gowns so that students can have a photo opportunity.

“Our international students will also have the opportunity to receive a commemorative video and have their graduation documentation posted worldwide free of charge.”

Professor Crisp said the initiative was all about giving certainty to students who have had to endure so much change and disruption this year.

“We’ve been able to reopen the campus to some students in a COVID-safe way. Our laboratories and our studios are open where possible.

“Our main concern is that students continue with their studies,” he said.

UC politics and international relations graduate Mike Gilbey finished last year and is now working at the Department of the Senate at Parliament House and said he would also take up the offer to mark the occasion.

“I’m happy to see the back of it all, really,” he said. “It would have been nice to celebrate, but I definitely understand.

“The university really looks after its students so I’m glad they’ve been able to organise something.”

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