Graduation ceremonies called off due to pandemic

Thousands of graduands at Otago University and Olago Polytechnic were affected after ceremonies...
Thousands of graduands at Otago University and Olago Polytechnic were affected after ceremonies were postponed at short notice in December. Photo: Gerard O'Brien/ODT
The University of Otago has cancelled its December graduation ceremonies due to Covid-19.

In an email to students, registrar Chris Stoddart said that after careful consideration, including looking at alternative graduation formats, the university did not believe it would be able to provide graduates with an appropriate graduation experience under current and expected restrictions.

"We are also aware of the public health risks inherent in running graduation events at this time."

Six ceremonies involving 2224 students graduating in person were scheduled to take place in Dunedin between Saturday, December 11 and Saturday, December 18.

Scheduling for alternative ceremonies next year was under way, and students would be advised of dates in due course.

The university did not expect to schedule events before mid-March, and additional events may be incorporated around May and August graduation ceremonies.

"We recognise the decision to cancel the December graduation ceremonies will be disappointing, and we are also saddened that we will not be able to celebrate with you in December.

"Nonetheless, we believe this is the right decision at this time, and we look forward to providing you with a full graduation experience in 2022."

Students had until November 22 to withdraw from the December ceremonies. If they did so, they could graduate at a ceremony next year.

If they chose not to, they would graduate in absentia in December and could attend an acknowledgement ceremony next year.

Last week, Otago Polytechnic confirmed it had postponed its December graduation ceremony until March.

The revised ceremony date is Thursday, March 10, which will precede the polytechnic’s annual scheduled March graduation, to be held the following day.

Both events will be held at the Dunedin Town Hall.

Business South chief executive Mike Collins said businesses were disappointed when things were cancelled, but they also understood the reasons why.

The impact of graduation cancellations on industries such as hospitality and accommodation was significant, he said.

It also took away an opportunity to showcase the city to people from out of town.


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