Because of the rapid spread of Omicron throughout the UK, the University of Manchester has postponed Winter Graduation celebrations, and disgruntled students and their families believe the decision was made on too short notice.
In light of the spread of the Omicron variant, the institution announced on Friday, December 10th. The ceremony will now only take place in March or April of next year.
The university has offered to cover the cost of gown rental as well as a £50 compensation charge to students. However, several students and families claim to have already spent hundreds of pounds on travel and lodging.
One of the parents, Dr. Lina Lewis, traveled from Dubai to Wales and then to Manchester to see her son, Tarek, receive his Master’s degree in Medical and Molecular Virology. He was also scheduled to receive a prize.
“We are utterly disappointed,” said Dr. Lewis.
“My husband and I took time off to come to Manchester from Dubai and my son flew from Copenhagen.
“We have paid thousands to be here [in Manchester].
“It’s devastating that graduation was canceled haphazardly on a Friday night.
“It’s just a shambles.
“It’s a highly unorganized and thoughtless move, to leave it so late.
“Universities across the country are holding graduations.
“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 that caliber to be more thoughtful of what people went through to be in Manchester for graduation.
“It’s not the money that we’ve lost, so much as the experience that the graduates didn’t have.”
Cat Fletcher, another parent echoes these views, since her daughter was set to graduate in nursing this week.
The family had rented an Airbnb for two nights after planning a six-hour journey from outside of London to Manchester.
“It was too late to get a refund on my £122 train fare and my son’s £96 train ticket from London.
“It’s just short of £500 that we’ve spent.
“I will have to repay the entire expense again when graduation is rescheduled.
“I know the £50 compensation fee is a big expense to the university, but it covers no expense on our end at all.”
Cat also branded the decision “disrespectful” to students who have been key workers during the pandemic.
“This cohort of nurses have had the worst couple of years of their lives,” Cat continued.
“The fact that any of them graduated, never mind with flying colors, is nothing short of a miracle.
“Student nurses have been on placement in hospitals.
“Whether or not we had Omicron, there’s always problems at this time of year, like bad weather and the NHS exploding.
“Cancelling 73 hours before the ceremony is completely unacceptable.”
A University of Manchester spokesperson said the decision was “not taken at all lightly”, adding:
“We know this decision will be a major disappointment to 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 graduating students for the inconvenience that this will cause.
“Though graduation ceremonies are unable to go ahead, all successful candidates will graduate without being present in person and will receive their degree certificates by post to their home address.
“We will also be covering the cost of gown hire and arranging a £50 payment to all graduands who had registered to attend a ceremony.
“Of course, we want to mark graduation in person in the appropriate way and we are planning to offer dates in March and April 2022.”
For more information about the postponed Graduation, visit https://studentnews.manchester.ac.uk/2021/12/10/postponement-of-winter-graduation-ceremonies-to-march-april-2022-%ef%bf%bc/.