Why only online degree ceremonies?

Plans for an in-person degree ceremony have been shelved. ‘Unfortunately it wasn’t feasible.’
Aula building Aula building. Photo: Marte Hofsteenge

The coronavirus has changed graduation too: WUR is organizing online degree ceremonies for Master’s students. Some graduating students are disappointed that nothing is being organized offline; other academic and applied universities are arranging in-person ceremonies.
Dean of Education Arnold Bregt understands their disappointment. ‘We hoped for a long while that we would be able to organize an in-person graduation ceremony in the Aula in the autumn, by which time we thought the coronavirus crisis would have subsided. That turned out to be too optimistic. Because you can only have a few people per session, you would need a lot of sessions. Unfortunately that’s not feasible.’

Logistical challenge

So it will be online ceremonies. ‘Six hundred of the 1280 graduating students have registered. They will all get a graduation session in groups of up to 12 students, divided up according to degree subject. Each graduation is a live stream in which the students’ thesis supervisors also say a few personal words. That means a total of 434 teachers have to log in at the right moment to give their little speech. That is a huge logistical challenge. But you can keep it personal that way.’

An online ceremony has advantages too, says Bregt. ‘Normally, a lot of international students will have already left Wageningen by the time of the ceremony. Now they can still attend. You also now get a personal address from your thesis supervisor, which isn’t normally the case.’

The online Master’s degree ceremonies will be from 21 September to 1 October. No ceremony is being organized as yet for students who got their Bachelor’s. They will be sent a small gift via email with a video message from rector magnificus Arthur Mol.

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