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Record Number Of Canterbury Students Gear Up To Graduate

Thousands of University of Canterbury (UC) students will fill central Christchurch for graduation processions, ceremonies and celebrations next week.

The upcoming graduations will be the largest in the university’s 147-year history, with six end-of-year graduation ceremonies and two separate celebration events to be held at the Christchurch Town Hall between Monday 14 December and Friday 18 December.

Capping off a unique year, in which Covid-19 caused cancellations and disrupted lectures, a record total of almost 3000 UC students will take part in the week’s events.

UC Tumu Whakarae | Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey is pleased the ceremonies will go ahead with such huge numbers.

“It’s been a very challenging year so we especially appreciate being able to come together as a community to celebrate the achievements of our UC graduates.

“Graduation ceremonies are a culmination of years of hard work and commitment so it’s important for students to have their degrees conferred in person with their friends and whānau there to watch their big moment on stage.

“We are also delighted to have our processions through the city because UC is a vital part of Christchurch and the processions are an opportunity for students to share their achievements with the wider community.”

New Zealand’s Covid-19 lockdown earlier this year forced the cancellation of UC’s April graduation ceremonies, and a celebration planned for 1 September was postponed because of restrictions on large groups under Alert Level 2.

About 660 students who graduated in absentia because of the disruption will attend the special celebration events on Monday 14 December.

More than 2260 students will then graduate in person at ceremonies to be held on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Two extra ceremonies have been added to the four usually held at the end of the year to accommodate the unprecedented number of students wanting to graduate.

All participants can take part in the traditional processions wearing their gowns, hoods and caps to parade through city streets to the Town Hall.

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson says the boost from 3000 people and their friends and whānau attending ceremonies in central Christchurch will be welcomed by local businesses. “The return of the ceremonies to the central city is great news for our retailers and hospitality outlets and will build on strong, recent growth in retail spending in the central business district.

“It also reinforces that Ōtautahi Christchurch continues to be a hub of quality education and innovation, contributing to the dynamic, future-focused 21st century experience of the Waitaha Canterbury region.”

Last year, about 1900 UC students graduated in December, including 1637 graduated in person at the Christchurch Town Hall.

Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha University of Canterbury December graduations:

  • On Monday 14 December two celebration ceremonies for April graduates (postponed from 1 September) will be held, including PhDs, College of Arts and College of Engineering from 10am and College of Science, College of Business and Law, College of Education, Health and Human Development from 2pm.
  • On Wednesday 16 December the College of Education ceremonies will be held at 10am with UC Business School at 2pm and School of Law, and Health and Human Development at 6pm.
  • On Thursday 17 December, College of Engineering students will graduate in the afternoon.
  • On Friday 18 December the College of Science ceremony is in the morning and the College of Arts in the afternoon.
  • UC will also host a celebration for Māori graduates and graduands to celebrate their achievements with whānau, and a celebration for Pacific and Pasifika students who have recently graduated.

About the processions:

In fine weather the procession assembly area is in Market Square at the Arts Centre. The procession begins at 9am for a morning ceremony and 1pm for an afternoon ceremony. Graduands will move into Worcester Blvd and proceed to the Town Hall via Oxford Tce and Victoria Square.

  • Please note that graduands attending the 6pm Wednesday ceremony will process from Victoria Square rather than the Arts Centre.

UC graduation ceremonies background:

The first Canterbury degrees were conferred in 1878 in the Canterbury Provincial Chambers with the ceremonies moving to the College Hall, now known as the Great Hall, at the Arts Centre after its completion in 1882. The Christchurch Town Hall became the venue in 1973.

In 2019, end-of-year graduands were able to take part in the traditional UC graduation processions for the first time in nine years. The central city parades had not been possible since 2010 because of the damage and disruption caused by the Canterbury earthquakes. They were cancelled in April 2019 following the 15 March mosque attacks.

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