Graduation 2011 - Ceremony Report
With a cast of more than 2,600 graduates and guests, a member of the Royal Family, and friends and family gathered around 35,000 computer screens across the world – the 2011 London Graduation Ceremony was a truly momentous occasion on an unprecedented scale for the University of London International Programmes.
The day’s events, stretching from the Barbican Centre, to Senate House and the Hotel Russell, marked an extraordinary day for all concerned.
To cater to the event’s rapidly growing popularity, two ceremonies were held, attracting 761 graduates. For many, the occasion was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they will never forget. The ceremony played host to guests from a vast spectrum of cultures and backgrounds, resulting in a vibrant celebratory atmosphere.
Steeped in tradition
Our graduates and their guests were notably impressed by the splendour of our ceremonial traditions and the grandeur of the auditorium in which the ceremonies took place. Many were said to be “bursting with pride”, having been congratulated on their academic achievements by a member of the Royal Family.
A Royal presence
The morning ceremony began with a speech from our Chancellor, Her Royal Highness (HRH) The Princess Royal, who warmly congratulated our graduates on their achievements: “I acknowledge that your journey in getting to this point has been far from easy and I know that for all of you, it represents a long and sustained commitment to a programme of study.”
The Princess Royal continued: “Some of you have had to remain in full-time work while studying; others have had family or dependents to look after. And we must not forget those of you who have had to study completely by yourselves, with little or no tutored support. I know that our students invariably always complete their study programmes against the pressures of juggling a family and career and it is for this reason that I, on behalf of all those at the University of London, am particularly proud to see you all here today ready to graduate.”
Special Reception with HRH The Princess Royal
Between the morning and afternoon ceremonies, a small cross-section of students had the privilege of attending a special reception with The Princess Royal. Oliver Jayasuriya, an LLB graduate from Sri Lanka, said: “It was an unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience. The Princess Royal inquired as to what the future holds for me – I spoke of my passion for the legal profession and my desire to continue studying.” Oliver added: “The LLB degree I completed through the University of London International Programmes has inspired me to such an extent that I plan to start my LLM with the University”.
A number of representatives from our supporting institutions also attended the reception, including Dr John Cribbin, School Secretary & Registrar for HKU SPACE. He said: “The nice thing about the reception was that it was principally student-focused, and HRH took a genuine interest in all of the student groups. In our session we talked a little about our role in supporting students of the International Programmes. I had met HRH before and indeed her late grandmother (Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother) in her time as Chancellor, when I was a student at UCL, so it was interesting to see the family continuity as well as the different styles”.
Speaking more generally about the occasion, Dr Cribbin added: “The most enjoyable thing was in seeing such a wide range of nationalities involved at the ceremony, truly a global array of students, as well as the evident delight of the graduates in being presented for their degrees. It certainly felt like a happy occasion.”
Also in attendance at the Chancellor’s reception was Julie Noone, Head of Kaplan Business School, who spoke of her pride at meeting HRH: “It was of course a great honour to meet The Princess Royal, who clearly holds the interests of the students and the University in high esteem. Having HRH as Chancellor brings an even greater respect for the students and what their achievements mean.”
Julie added: “The Princess Royal was keen to know how Kaplan, as a training institution, could ensure that the University of London’s high-level of academic quality is retained. I explained that the courses themselves commanded this quality as, in order for the students to achieve success, the support we give has to be of the highest calibre.”
Visiting our iconic home – Senate House
Following the ceremonies, and a champagne reception for our graduates, the day’s proceedings continued with a tour of the University of London’s iconic home, Senate House.
Around 100 graduates and their guests joined the two guided tours, led by senior staff from the University of London International Programmes, including our Associate Director, Tim Wade. The tours sought to welcome our new graduates to their home campus, which most had not seen before. Staff provided facts and figures, as well as a selection of informal stories surrounding the development and history of the now beautifully restored art-deco building and its surroundings. The tour also allowed guests to explore the many portraits and artefacts that bring Senate House’s history to life, including portraits of our former Chancellor, The Queen Mother, our current Chancellor, HRH The Princess Royal, and our former Vice-Chancellors.
Celebrations continued over dinner
Many of those who attended the tour had also booked for the evening Student Dinner, which meant a short walk across Russell Square to the Hotel Russell. This prestigious hotel was frequented in the early 20th Century by the “Bloomsbury Set”, a group of writers, intellectuals and artists, including the celebrated English author, Virginia Woolf.
At the Hotel Russell, our guests were treated to an evening of excellent food and fine wine, accompanied by the music of a String Quartet.
The dinner, attended by nearly 400 graduates and guests, provided an opportunity to meet fellow graduates and Programme Directors from the University. The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geoffrey Crossick, and the Dean, Professor Jonathan Kydd, both gave speeches at the dinner, in which they congratulated our graduates once again for their achievements and reflected on what had been a remarkable day for the students of the University of London International Programmes.