A graduation without borders

20 July 2020

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Nottingham alumni, ambassadors and famous faces are helping to mark the graduation of 10,000 students in a 24-hour global celebration.

The virtual festival will begin at 1am Nottingham time on Friday July 24 as dawn breaks in New Zealand. Bursts of activity will take place in different countries around the world, following the path of the sun, and ending as night falls in the South Pacific.

University of Nottingham staff, students, alumni living around the world, and at our China and Malaysia campuses, will be sharing in messages of celebration, congratulations and offering advice for the future. They include Nottingham-born actress Vicky McClure, explorer and alumnus Levison Wood and former UNM Student President BBC journalist Ben Hunte.

Meanwhile in the UK, faculties at the University will celebrate the success of their graduating cohorts and award school prizes for exceptional students.

Nottingham’s first Young Poet Laureate, alumna Georgina Wilding, has written a poem titled In Absentia to mark the occasion.

Students have been encouraged to put their own spin on celebrations. Suggestions include how to fashion a mortar board and gown from items lying around the house, ways of celebrating in a socially-distanced world as well as a series of other challenges to take part in.

In line with government advice the University is not able to hold its usual graduation ceremonies this summer. Instead students will graduate in absentia, with certificates posted to them. 

Professor Shearer West, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham said: “Graduation is one of the most significant events of the year.  For our students, it is the opportunity to share with loved ones the culmination of their hard work.  For staff, this is a moment of pride for the many achievements of our students and an opportunity to celebrate their success.

“But these extraordinary circumstances have called for a different approach to our celebrations this year. While we will, of course, invite all our students back for their official graduation ceremonies when it is safe to host them on campus, we also want to mark their achievements now.

Over 150 countries are represented by those who study and work with us, and we wish to ensure that our celebrations reflect our global thinking. Many of our international students returned to their home countries as the pandemic broke, and I am delighted that they will be able to join in our graduation without borders on July 24.

Professor Shearer West, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham
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In Numbers

The day will also see the University’s campuses in Ningbo, China, and Semenyih, Malaysia, celebrating with their students- bringing the total number taking part to 10,000.

7,500 in UK

1,600 in China

900 in Malaysia

The University has one student graduating in the Maldives this year, taking our alumni population there to 22

There are three students graduating from Afghanistan and one in Uzbekistan.

In both Eritrea and Somalia there are two students marking the end of their studies.

Our first alum in Cote d’Ivoire is being welcomed this year, as are our first six in Mauritania.

Ongoing support

The University is also offering students in the Class of 2020 an extended package of careers support and activities, helping them to thrive professionally and personally – pandemic or not – wherever they are in the world.  It includes new online modules, a range of talks from alumni to help you develop skills such as networking or CV and application writing. 

The Nottingham Open Online Course helps translate COVID-19 volunteering or unpaid work into a valuable CV addition, complemented by tips from alumni about how they’ve used similar experiences to get ahead. 

Professor West added: “We are very aware that navigating these uncertain times is challenging. However, the unusual circumstances during the final months of University life make our graduates’ accomplishments all the greater.  We remind them that they are not alone.  They are joining a community of 300,000 alumni, and we will always be here to support them.”

In their own words

Sara Siddiqi, Student Association President at University of Nottingham Malaysia who studied Chemical and Environmental Engineering said: “I am really excited to finish this chapter of my life and continuing my post graduate studies at the University of Nottingham UK. It is both exciting and overwhelming to some extent. I will miss the University of Nottingham Malaysia, my friends and all the precious memories, especially with my term as President of the Students’ Association. I will always remember how the entire UNM community worked and stayed together during these unprecedented times.”

In China Zhanyou Liu, a graduate of the English Language and Applied Linguistics 2+2 programme, was at the UK campus for the end of her course.

She shared her experience of the pandemic and graduation: “UNNC has taught me a lot in the past time and I’ve made incredible friends there. I would always be grateful for the studying experiences there and they would influence my whole lifetime. 2020 has been an extraordinary year. We’ve been through a lot of challenges. We might have been parted from our friends and families, but I’m so proud that we made it. We achieved and we grew.”

Emily Hall, who studied English at the UK campus in Nottingham said: “Lockdown has shown me just how lucky I have been to have had my University experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better three years, and Nottingham will now always be like a second home. I have met the most incredible people, both within an academic and social capacity, and feel so lucky.

“Graduating from home was an interesting experience to say the least, but it hasn’t taken anything away from how proud I am to have obtained a first class honours degree. It has shown that if you’re determined and passionate, then you can achieve what you want, even during a global pandemic.

“As for what is next I am going to the University of Brighton to do a Journalism Masters. Although apprehensive about moving away, and unsure of what the coming months will bring, I have decided to go for it, and tackle any obstacles (of which I am sure there will be a fair few) along the way.”

For event timings and more information on how to join in the celebrations visit the University of Nottingham’s Graduation without Borders page or submit your message of support via social media using #WeAreUoN.

Join us for a global celebration