A second university has announced it won’t hold graduation ceremonies this summer for the second year running due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The University of South Wales (USW) has told students summer 2021 graduation ceremonies are being postponed amid continuing uncertainty with the pandemic.
On Tuesday Cardiff Metropolitan University announced its graduation ceremonies this year would not go ahead and it hoped to run them in 2022 instead.
Summer graduation ceremonies are a highlight of the academic calendar and a chance for students to celebrate the end of years of study in front of family and friends.
Announcing the disappointing decision Professor Martin Stegall, pro vice-chancellor for research and student experience at USW said they would try to re-arrange the ceremonies to a later date.
“We would never have thought a year ago when we first came off campus and moved to remote learning and teaching that we would still be in the midst of a pandemic a year later,” Professor Stegall said.
“Whilst the rollout of the vaccine is hugely encouraging the months ahead are still uncertain and no-one can be sure as to how the pandemic will continue to unfold.
“As we head towards the summer term of the academic year we would normally be asking our final-year students to register for their graduation ceremonies and be looking forward to these milestone celebrations.
“However it is uncertain when events involving large groups of people can resume and having reflected on this we have made the difficult decision to postpone this summer’s graduation ceremonies, which were due to be held in July.”
Certificates will be posted to graduating students in the meantime.
Other universities are yet to decide. Swansea, Aberystwyth, and Cardiff universities all said they are discussing the matter and will make announcements soon.
Universities are also trying to plan what student life and teaching will look like next term and beyond.
Face-to-face learning for all students can resume from next month, the Welsh Government announced on Monday.
University campuses in Wales have been open since January but only for those on practical courses needing access to facilities in order to complete qualifications.
As for what student life will look like in September universities said it was too early to say but they are planning for a range of possible scenarios depending on government regulations and the pandemic.
They said plans are being made for remote learning to continue in the new academic year in September as well as the possibility that face-to-face teaching and sport and social activity may resume by then.
A University of South Wales spokesman said: “Our operational arrangements for September 2021 will be dependent upon the progression of the Covid-19 pandemic and what Welsh Government regulations we are operating under at the time.
“It is too early to say what that will be. We are preparing for a number of potential scenarios. This includes preparing for a blended learning approach (with a mixture of remote and on-campus learning) as well as preparing an approach where there is additional face-to-face learning on campus and additional social and sporting activity. We will update everyone as soon as we have a clearer picture of what can be expected in September.”
An Aberystwyth University spokesperson said: “As we look to the next academic year in September this year our priority will continue to be the safety and wellbeing of all our students, staff, and the wider community.
“Like every institution we are preparing so that we are ready for a number of possible scenarios. As always we will continue to guided by, and act in line with, government guidance. Our aim is to offer Aberystwyth University students an experience that is as similar as possible to the high-quality experience we always aim to deliver, with as much in-person teaching as is safely possible.”
Aberystwyth University before the pandemic
Wrexham Glyndwr University said in a statement: “No decisions have been made as yet on either graduation or the new academic year as this very much depends on government guidelines and regulations at the time so we are planning for multiple scenarios.
“In line with current government guidance a number of our students have been receiving face-to-face teaching since September 2020 and will continue to do so for the remainder of the semester.
“All students are having their courses delivered using our active learning framework (ALF) which combines making the best use of our on-campus learning spaces with student-focused online learning content that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
“Our on-campus facilities, such as the library and social learning spaces, have also remained open and accessible to students and have been reconfigured to be Covid-secure. “
Universities Wales, which represents higher education in Wales, said: “What universities offer in September will depend on government restrictions and guidance.
“Institutions are currently planning for multiple scenarios. Institutions will continue to deliver a high-quality learning experience while complying with public health regulations and prioritising the safety and wellbeing of staff and students.”