The ceremonies are taking place from 12 – 28 July.
The University of Portsmouth will hold reduced in-person graduation ceremonies for students this year in Portsmouth’s Guildhall, with strict safety measures in place.
The ceremonies, from 12 – 28 July, are being stretched out across three weeks to accommodate smaller numbers of students and their families.
This is in line with step three of the government roadmap, which allows controlled indoor events to take place at reduced capacity, provided they meet Covid-secure requirements.
There are 44 ceremonies being conducted overall to accommodate lower numbers of students and guests in each ceremony – with normal capacities halved to ensure social distancing. Students will only be allowed two guests, instead of the usual four, and their gowns will be sent to their home address in advance of their ceremony.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith said: “Graduation is such an important occasion for students to celebrate their achievements and we’ve recognised how important it is for students’ families as well as our own academic community.
“Students have tolerated a lot of disruption during the pandemic so we are working hard to ensure we will safely deliver an event that acts as a significant milestone marking their success and the end of their hard work.
“It is also important to recognise the impact of graduation days on the local economy. Graduation brings people to the City and, given how much the Visitor Economy has suffered throughout the pandemic, it will provide a vital shot in the arm for many businesses.
“The test I have always applied is this: if we can conduct Covid-safe graduation ceremonies - and Public Health Portsmouth tell us we can - we have an obligation to our students, their families and the City’s Visitor Economy to do everything in our powers to make these ceremonies happen.”
The test I have always applied is this: if we can conduct Covid-safe graduation ceremonies - and Public Health Portsmouth tell us we can - we have an obligation to our students, their families and the City’s Visitor Economy to do everything in our powers to make these ceremonies happen.
The University is working closely with Public Health Portsmouth and other civic partners to ensure the events will be safe.
Measures to reduce risk include temperature scanners on arrival at the Guildhall, extra time between ceremonies for cleaning and disinfecting (virus fogging) of the building, along with face masks, social distancing and proof of Covid-19 status - if these requirements are still in place. There will also be additional Covid safety ambassadors at the Guildhall and other university locations to support the safety of guests by managing queues and ensuring masks are worn.
Professor Galbraith said: “We’ve been ahead of the game in terms of keeping on top of infection levels on campus by hosting our very own asymptomatic testing centre, and our infection numbers have remained low throughout the pandemic. I am confident that we’ll be able to run our ceremonies safely and of course are acting on advice which we regularly obtain from Public Health Portsmouth.
“The target date to lift restrictions does not currently affect graduation as our planning has been on the basis of the current restrictions. The safety measures we’re implementing are all in compliance with the prevailing government guidance.”
Councillor Suzy Horton, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education at Portsmouth City Council, said: "The University of Portsmouth has worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of students throughout the pandemic, working closely with the council's Public Health team, most recently to ensure their graduation ceremony events are covid-safe. Our Public Health team is particularly pleased to have helped make sure these events can take place safely, as recognising the achievements of students in what's been a difficult couple of academic years is really important."