Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and Ulster University have both announced that they will hold graduation ceremonies online this year.
Both institutions have also confirmed that the vast majority of end-of-year exams will be held online, with only a small number of in-person exams at QUB, “where it is not appropriate for assessment to be undertaken remotely”.
A spokesperson for Ulster University said: “Whilst we must delay holding physical graduation ceremonies for the class of summer 2021, we are committed to offering physical ceremonies for our graduating classes when it is safe to do so.
“Graduation remains a special occasion for the whole university community, and we look forward sharing our plans for a student-centred celebration event as this extraordinary academic year comes to a close.”
A QUB spokesperson said: “While the roll-out of vaccinations looks promising, strict social-distancing rules and limitations on large gatherings currently remain in place.
With the level of planning required for graduation not only for the university, but also for many students who will need to organise travel and accommodation, the risk of a late-stage cancellation is too high.
– QUB spokesperson
“With the level of planning required for graduation not only for the university, but also for many students who will need to organise travel and accommodation, the risk of a late-stage cancellation is too high.
The QUB spokesperson added: “As we cannot mark this important milestone on campus this summer, we will provide an online celebration event to recognise student achievements.”
QUB has confirmed that it intends to hold graduation ceremonies on campus “at a future date”.
Last year, both institutions moved graduation online. QUB promised 2020 graduates a traditional in-person graduation ceremony once the threat of COVID-19 had passed, but that these ceremonies would “be replaced in the short term by virtual graduation ceremonies”.
Ulster told its students that it was “actively considering” options to run ceremonies once Covid restrictions were lifted.
Both QUB and Ulster said that they took adherence to Covid rules “very seriously”, and revealed in March that hundreds of students have been suspended for breaching regulations.