Disappointed families have denounced decision to postpone Manchester University graduation ceremonies

Disappointed students and families have spoken out against Manchester University for postponing winter graduation ceremonies.

The university made the announcement Friday (December 10) in light of the spread of the Omicron variant.

READ MORE:University students slammed ‘insulting’ compensation offer after last-minute graduation postponed

The ceremonies are now scheduled for next March or April.

The university offered to reimburse students for the cost of renting dresses, as well as a compensation fee of £ 50.

However, some students and families say they have already spent hundreds of euros on travel and accommodation costs.

Dr Lina Lewis, 58, flew from Dubai and then traveled from Wales to Manchester to see her son, Tarek, get a master’s degree in medical and molecular virology.

He was also to receive an award.

“We are totally disappointed,” said Dr Lewis.

“My husband and I took time off to come to Manchester from Dubai and my son flew from Copenhagen.

“We paid thousands to be here [in Manchester].

“It’s devastating this graduation ceremony was randomly canceled on a Friday evening.

“It’s just a mess.

“It’s a very unorganized and thoughtless decision to leave it so late.

Manchester University

“Universities across the country are having graduation ceremonies.

“So the University of Manchester could have done it, with extra precautions, like masks and social distancing.

“It’s a lot of organization, but it can be done, so that you can give these children a memory for life, regardless of all the darkness around you.

“You would expect a university of this caliber to pay more attention to what people went through to be in Manchester for graduation.

“It’s not the money that we lost, but the experience that the graduates didn’t have.”

Echoing those sentiments, Cat Fletcher, 58, whose daughter was due to graduate from nursing this week.

The family had planned a six-hour trip from outside London to Manchester and booked an Airbnb for two nights.

Cat explained: ” I’m sure we won’t be the only family to find out 73 hours before graduation that it was postponed.

“It was too late to get reimbursed for my £ 122 train ticket and my son’s £ 96 train ticket from London.

“We spent just under £ 500.

“I will have to reimburse all expenses again when graduation is postponed.

“I know the £ 50 compensation fee is a big expense for the university, but it doesn’t actually cover any expense on our part.”

Cat also called the move “disrespectful” to students who were key workers during the pandemic.

“This cohort of nurses has literally gone through the worst years of their lives,” continued Cat.

“The fact that one of them graduated, no matter how brilliantly, is nothing short of a miracle.

“Nursing students have been placed in hospitals.

“Whether or not we have Omicron, there are always issues this time of year, like bad weather and the explosion of the NHS.

“Canceling 73 hours before the ceremony is totally unacceptable.”

A photo of Federico Parma
Federico Parma said he felt “disappointed” by the university’s decision to postpone winter graduation

Federico Parma, 23, a business graduate, said the postponement disrupted his family’s visit to Manchester from Italy.

He said, “It’s disappointing. My family booked our flights and hotel and now w We are trying to change the flights.

“It was pretty hectic and not fair for us.

“I would understand the government to announce a ban on graduation.

“But the nightclubs are still open and the stadiums are full to capacity.”

Federico and his classmates also received an email invitation for a drink after their graduation ceremony, only to find later that graduation had been postponed – which he called “frustrating” .

Another business graduate, who asked to remain anonymous, revealed she lost money on PCR tests required to travel to Manchester from overseas.

She said: ” I already have sp ent money on Covid tests and flights.

“It took a lot of phone calls to EasyJet for my family to move our flights.

“A lot of students have spent over £ 50 to travel to Manchester for their graduation.

“The graduation ceremony is already formal – it would have been socially distanced, masks on, as little contact as possible.

“We would have done Covid tests – I needed three just to get into the country.”

She also described how the situation has exacerbated student struggles throughout the pandemic.

“I loved my time at the University of Manchester, but as students we feel seriously undermined,” she added.

“Our hard work last year doesn’t matter.

“We made a lot of sacrifices.

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“We needed a diploma to validate us.”

A spokesperson for the University of Manchester said the decision was “not taken lightly”, adding: “We know this decision will be a big disappointment for our students, their families and our staff.

“The safety of our students, staff and the general public will always come first.

“We sincerely apologize to our graduate students for the inconvenience this will cause.

“Although graduation ceremonies cannot take place, all successful applicants will graduate without being present in person and receive their diploma certificates by mail to their homes.

“We will also cover the cost of the rental of the dresses and arrange a payment of £ 50 to all graduates who have registered to attend a ceremony.

“Of course, we want to mark the graduation in person in the appropriate way and we plan to come up with dates in March and April 2022.”

For more information on postponed graduation, visit https://studentnews.manchester.ac.uk/2021/12/10/postponement-of-winter-graduation-ceremonies-to-march-april-2022-%ef%bf%bc/.

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