Words by Joshua Talbot

A petition to secure a ‘real’ graduation ceremony for the University of Brighton’s class of 2020 has reached over 2500 signatures, after they were told that celebrations would be moved online.

The graduates who had been anticipating an in-person event in February 2021, after the original date was cancelled due to lockdown restrictions, received an email from the university explaining that celebrations will be “virtual”.

Author of the petition, Laura Donkin, wrote: “Graduation is something I imagine we all looked forward to, not just since our final exams, but since joining the university many years ago. It is a chance to celebrate our achievements and say a final farewell to Brighton itself.”

“It’s an opportunity for us to spend the day with our families who have mentally (and for some, financially) supported us to reach our goals.”

The decision to make the celebrations fully online was described as ‘a thoughtless and a cold one’. 

Brighton University told the Argus: “The university took this decision with huge reluctance and we recognise how disappointing it is to all those concerned.

“Each of our graduation ceremonies typically bring together around 1,500 attendees from around the world.

“The rapidly-changing Covid-19 restrictions which are currently in place across the United Kingdom and internationally make the holding of large-scale indoor events impossible.

“Our virtual celebrations will allow graduates to celebrate their success safely.”

For students who graduated from Sussex in the summer, the forced cancellation of what would have been the “biggest graduation” the university has seen, led to the publication of an article in July, in which graduation ceremony organiser Caroline Lehany, said:

“We hope that in 2021 we will be able to hold large-scale events again and to be able to invite our students to a ceremony. 

This year’s graduates have missed all their end of term celebrations, so it’s even more important to bring them back together. 

“I am sure it will be an even more special event for everyone.”

The Sussex event that is of a larger scale by comparison to that of Brighton University’s, was set to be split into 13 ceremonies with around 2000 students in attendance at each.

With restrictions next year still hard to predict, it remains to be seen exactly what form the Sussex event will take.

Picture Credit: Hassocks5489

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