Why real time graduations are important

Why real time graduations are important

2020 and 2021 have been difficult years in so many ways. The notion of planning events, for example, has been a nightmare for organisers – and so many have been cancelled, postponed and/or run virtually. One very important event for higher education providers (including UBSS) is the annual graduation ceremony.

The graduation ceremony is a vital inclusion in the calendar for all providers. The event is the culmination of years of hard work and commitment and it provides an opportunity to acknowledge the work and achievements of students. Most importantly it provides the opportunity to dress up and share the moment with colleagues and fellow success stories – and in the case of UBSS at the Sydney Opera House – an icon of Australia that is readily recognised throughout the world.

A number of providers have chosen to run ‘virtual’ graduations that are often quality productions but lack the most important ingredient – the actual students being present.

In 2020 UBSS decided to cancel the event – the Opera House was locked down for any such event. Rather than go virtual – the decision was made to combine 2019/2020 at a live May 2021 event that had all the elements needed for such a celebration. Fortunately the timing was impeccable (between lockdowns) and the four events (each reduced in size to meet the requirements of a COVID Safe environment) – were a stunning success. All four events can be viewed online –

Wednesday, May 19 Morning Session
Wednesday, May 19 Afternoon Session 
Thursday, May 20 Morning Session 
Thursday, May 20 Afternoon Session

Well organised, well developed, inclusive and impressive – and most importantly in real time. Students were able to gather together (appropriately) and celebrate arguably one of the most important events in their lives. Following the ceremonies, refreshments were provided for friends and relatives and the all-important photographs were taken that included the tossing of caps in front of the harbour bride – a trademark photo for all UBSS graduations.

Not only were the events recorded (and were available via live streaming for friends and families that could not be in Sydney at the time) but also an extensive range of photographs were taken, both formally and informally, and then shared on line for all to see and enjoy – not to mention keep for posterity!

Nothing beats the live event – nothing can replace the live event – and UBSS remains committed to ensuring a formal, real time, event is scheduled for all future graduations. This may encounter challenges as we work our way out of the pandemic but UBSS understands the importance of the concept and the actual event itself. The 2022 graduation is scheduled for August, 2022 at the Sydney Opera House.


Emeritus Professor Greg Whateley is Deputy Vice Chancellor, GCA