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Angry students receive degrees by mail

1 month ago 19

Students are leading a charge to overturn a university’s controversial move to cancel graduation ceremonies at all of its campuses across five Australian cities.

Nearly 3500 students have signed the petition following Australian Catholic University’s announcement this week to cancel all 2020 graduation ceremonies at its campuses in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and Ballarat.

Victorian student Keira Lucas received her early childhood and primary education degree in the post and said students deserved more than “to be tossed into the too hard basket”.

“There are seven days in a week and 365 days in 2021. To say that rolling over ceremonies is too hard is extremely disappointing,” she said.

“Graduation is something that means so much to us and our families and extended families – university is hard and this year has been huge, a big toll mentally and physically, so the ceremony was a light at the end of a tunnel.

“But to not get anything more than my degree in the post is shattering, students deserve more.”

Maria Koukoulias said students would be happy with a day in 2021 to celebrate together, even if social distancing measures had to be put in place.

“We all can understand the impact of the pandemic and the need to take measures to keep everyone safe. This is why we understood that our ceremonies unfortunately had to be postponed earlier this year and again worried that this might also be the fate of those graduating in spring ceremonies,” she said.

“However we all expected that this inconvenience was only for the time being and would still result in a day to celebrate our achievements eventually. It is immensely unfair and disrespectful to students at this point in time to completely cancel these graduations after we put in so many years of hard work and study in order to complete our degrees.”

Australian Catholic University deputy vice-chancellor Dr Stephen Weller said he acknowledged the students’ disappointment, but safety and wellbeing had to be the “greatest” priority.

“Like others in the education sector, we are taking into account the escalating restrictions and health and safety risks presented by COVID-19 in each of the states and territories where ACU campuses are,” he said.

“While difficult to make, cancelling ceremonies was the only responsible decision for the health of our graduates, their families, our staff and our communities.

“It is certainly disappointing for each of our graduating students who have invested so much of themselves to reach this achievement, and ACU is looking towards alternative means for them to safely celebrate with their family and friends, such as the opportunity to have photos taken in academic regalia when health restrictions allow us to do so.”

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