The University of Wollongong (UOW) has left graduates “disappointed” at what some have called a “pathetic effort” to deliver online 2020 graduation ceremonies.
UOW has responded to the backlash saying the decision to cancel 2020 graduation ceremonies due to government imposed COVID-19 restrictions was “difficult” and “not taken lightly.”
“University of Wollongong values graduation as an important milestone and wants to do all it can, within current COVID-19 restrictions, to recognise the achievements of its graduates,” a UOW spokesperson said.
Around 7,600 students were unable to celebrate their formal graduation in-person at the UOW campus in 2020.
The spokesperson said continually changing gathering restrictions made it impossible to do an in-person event.
“A virtual event was the most practical option for UOW to give as many of our 2020 graduates as possible, a chance to celebrate their achievements with fellow graduates and loved ones while keeping guidelines in place and within government advice at the time, when key planning decisions had to be made,” the spokesperson said.
Students took to social media to express their discontent, including one student who said they were “embarrassed to have received their degree from UOW” and another calling it “low” to post a pre-recorded YouTube video for a graduation.
“The University understands and accepts that some graduates have been disappointed by the decision to hold a virtual graduation and/or by how the event was conducted,” the spokesperson said.
“This is regrettable, but unavoidable under these unprecedented circumstances.
“All UOW staff—whether teaching staff, researchers or professional services staff—value our graduates deeply and want to celebrate their achievements as best we can under the circumstances. The staff involved in preparing for the virtual graduation all worked diligently towards this shared goal.”
The spokesperson said the university wants to stay connected with graduates and encourages them to continue celebrating their success as members of the alumni community.