Message for students due to graduate in 2021

We know how much graduation means and that it is an important milestone, recognising your considerable achievements as you complete your studies with us. It is also a time to celebrate with friends and loved ones and look forward to the next chapter in your lives.

In deciding whether or not to attempt to hold on campus ceremonies in 2021 for our 2020 and 2021 graduates, we consulted with you via an online survey; thank you to the thousands of you who responded and shared your views. However, the survey did not show a clear preference for either option across the 2020/21 cohorts, therefore we have decided on alternative arrangements for the 2021 graduation cohort for this summer which are detailed below.

In making this decision, we have considered that while the COVID-19 situation in the UK has improved, the global situation has not, with major new outbreaks across Europe, India and in South America, and it is likely that quarantine arrangements for those arriving into the UK will still remain in place this summer. This will make it very difficult for any graduate living overseas, and their loved ones, to attend an in-person graduation. It is not possible to plan any large-scale in-person events with any certainty because while COVID-19 restrictions are beginning to lift in the UK, the Government’s roadmap is cautious and there can be no guarantees that further restrictions will have been lifted by the summer.

Our priority at all times must be the health and safety of our staff, students and their loved ones and therefore, regrettably, this means we cannot deliver in-person graduation ceremonies as we would have wished this summer. 

You have told us how important it is for you and your loved ones to be able to take part in a physical ceremony and so we are rescheduling the graduation ceremonies for our 2020 and 2021 graduates to take place in the summer of 2022. We can then all come together next year for what will be a traditional, full graduation experience to celebrate your success, should the pandemic permit. 

In addition, because you told us that taking photos in the grounds on campus and celebrating with friends was very important to you, we are planning small, COVID-safe on campus events during late June/July when you can wear your graduation gown, take photos with your classmates and take part in socially distanced celebratory events. We hope this will give many of you the opportunity to celebrate your achievement this year, whilst looking forward to the full graduation ceremony experience in 2022. Completing your studies with us is an important occasion and we wish to mark it with something special, therefore we will also host a virtual conferment event in July, to formally confer degrees to everyone who has achieved one. We hope this arrangement recognises the wishes of many 2021 graduates to have an in-person event this year, which many students voted for, whilst also committing to a full graduation ceremony with friends and family at a later date. This also ensures that the University is aligned with the safety and travel advice of local and national health bodies in the current circumstances.

Graduating from the University of Exeter is a real achievement – even more so this year given the unprecedented challenges posed by the global pandemic.

We have published a set of FAQs relating to this decision and an online Q&A will be held on Thursday 22nd April at 6pm for students to meet with senior staff at the University, should you have further questions about this decision.   

As ever, we are grateful to everyone for your ongoing understanding and support as we continue to adapt to what are very challenging circumstances for us all.