A student speaker is a selected representative from the Graduation cohort who delivers a speech to their peers, guests and university staff.

Benefits of being a student speaker

As a student speaker, you’ll have the opportunity to address your peers, guests and university staff at one of the year's most prestigious events. Your speech will contribute to a fulfilling and memorable day for all those attending. It’s a rare achievement that will enhance your CV.

As a student speaker at one of our in person ceremonies, you’ll also receive an exclusive Graduation package. This includes:

  • An invite to the VIP room before the ceremony
  • VIP seating for your guests
  • Free academic dress hire
  • Free professional photography

You’ll also receive training in writing and delivering speeches.

Applying to be a student speaker

Applications for student speakers for the 2023 Graduation ceremonies have closed.

For future ceremonies, the application form usually opens in January.


Student Speaker Information

Thank you for your interest in being the Student Speaker for your Graduation Ceremony. 

Graduation is a very important day to students, their guests and the University. If you are selected your speech will contribute to providing a fulfilling and memorable day for all those attending. 

The ceremony is a formal celebration of achievement. Speakers are therefore committing to engage in a professional process, speaking on behalf of their cohort to celebrate their time at university, their achievements, and to thank the University and its services on behalf of all the students at the ceremony. 

The audience is made up of peers, family, friends, University staff and also the wider public. The ceremony, and therefore the speech will be broadcast live on Youtube.

In order for you to be selected, your speech needs to fulfil certain requirements and you need to commit to attending mandatory training events. These are set out in the ‘Terms of the Speech’  and ‘Mandatory Training’ sections below. Please consider them carefully before applying.  

As part of the application process, you will be asked to provide an outline of what you would like to say. Please follow the terms of the speech. You may feel that these are somewhat restrictive, however these are in place to ensure that student speeches are inclusive and accessible for all those present. 

TIP: Please see University of Portsmouth 2021 graduation student speeches for examples of how unique, personal, inspiring and powerful the speeches can be. 

TIP: Avoid American examples of student speeches, speech-writing how-to instructions or examples. These are not in line with UK student speeches.

If you’d like to find out more about being a Student Speaker, go to any MyPort Hub to arrange to speak to your Student and Academic Administration Manager. 

Hear from our former student speakers

"I can't believe how supportive everyone was and how much they liked it!"

"The whole experience has been life-changing for me!"

Former student speaker

In order to be successful the Student Speech needs to reflect some key elements, these are outlined below.

  1. Speeches should be no more than two minutes in length.
  2. Selected speakers understand that they are speaking on behalf of all Graduates attending the Ceremony to celebrate and thank the University.
  3. Speeches should show appreciation of positive experiences, achievement, the University, academics and professional service staff.
  4. The content and vocabulary used should be positive, appreciative, uplifting, and suitable for a formal celebratory ceremony.
  5. Speeches can use your personal experience, but it must be brief and used to highlight positive experiences and/or feelings which apply, as far as possible, to all Graduates attending.
  6. Speeches must not refer to individual family members, staff or others.
  7. Speeches must not thank “families and friends” or “loved ones” or refer to their presence at the Ceremony (as some Graduates won’t have anyone to celebrate with).
  8. Jokes must not be included, but humour is encouraged as long as it fits the tone and formality of the occasion and is accessible to all.
  9. The complexity of the ceremony means that visual aids or other items should not be used.

Please note the University reserves the right to require amendments to content which does not meet the terms of the speech, or withdraw speakers if they have difficulties adhering to the terms of the speech.

Speakers are committing to engage in a professional process, where it is mandatory that Speakers complete the training, which consists of the below.

  1. A workshop on planning and preparing your speech
  2. A workshop on public speaking, voice and space
  3. A minimum of three one-to-one mentoring sessions with ASK
  4. A practice session in front of an audience
  5. A technical rehearsal
  6. Any further sessions required by ASK

The dates for the mandatory training and deadlines for 2023 student speakers are outlined below. Please note the University reserves the right to withdraw speakers if mandatory sessions are not attended, or deadlines are not met.

Activity Date Action
Workshop on Planning and Preparing your Speech 13 March 2023, 14.00 - 15.00
or 14 March 2023, 14.00 - 15.00
University Learning Centre


Your attendance at one of these sessions is mandatory
First Draft of Speech Deadline 26 May 2023 Send your first draft to gradutation@port.ac.uk
Workshop on Public Speaking, Voice and Space 21 June 2023, 14.30 - 16.30
or 22 June 2023, 10.00 - 12.00
University Learning Centre
Your attendance at one of these sessions is mandatory
1:1 Mentoring March 2023–  June 2023

Your attendance is compulsory at a minimum of two 1:1 (or small group) sessions arranged between ASK and Student Speakers. Phone (023 9284 3462) or email academicskills@port.ac.uk to book your appointment with the ASK Mentoring team. Please ensure you title any emails with 'Student Speakers' in all communications

Final Speech Deadline 30 June 2023 Send the final version of your speech to graduation@port.ac.uk
Practice with an Audience 5 July 2023, 12.00 - 16.30
Park building
Practice with an audience. Your attendance at this session is mandatory.
Technical Rehearsal TBC – early July  Your attendance at this session is mandatory. Please send an

Applications open 12 January to midnight 3 February 2023, any applications received after this time may not be considered.

Before submitting an application please ensure that you:

  1. Carefully read and consider the student speaker information above including the terms of the speech and mandatory training dates.
  2. Check to see if you have committed to any events which may occur during training and preparation process to ensure, as far as possible, that you can attend the mandatory training and have the time to develop your speech.
  3. Consider any possible eventualities which might impact your ability to fulfil your responsibilities as a student speaker.

If you think you have what it takes, complete the Google form to apply. 

Successful students will be notified by the 6 March 2023. We regret that we cannot give further feedback to those who are unsuccessful.

Student Speaker Example Speeches


Watch this speech being delivered by Sydneyat 44 minutes into the video. 


(Vice) Chancellor, Honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Let me begin with why we are all gathered here today. Excellence – that is the
word I would choose to describe what we are here to celebrate on this glorious
day. And we are connected through our Education Nelson Mandela said that
education is the most powerful tool which can be used to change the world. He
was right!

3 years ago we all embarked on this journey to learn and discover new things
about ourselves and now we are moving forward to things that we are
passionate about. Entering university felt like a getting a taste of a new and
popular trend, you may have heard of it? It’s called “Adulting” similar to
where you could get a 3-month trial of Spotify you could get a 3-year trial of
adult life and the University of Portsmouth have done a great job at
facilitating that! After 3-years, some of us are still figuring this “Adulting”
thing out, and that’s okay. 

Each and every one of us graduating today has successfully achieved a
challenging and rewarding feat, a moment that we will remember for the rest
of our lives. Through this journey we have discovered our own strengths and
weaknesses, engaged in the betterment of ourselves as students and people
and learned new skill sets which we can use in the advancement of our future

To quote Marianne Williamson, “We are powerful beyond measure. When we
let our own light shine, we unconsciously give permission for those around us to
do the same”. I believe this quote encapsulates the journey we have all been
through. It acts as a reminder of how we may have faced challenges that may
have discouraged us – be it a bad grade or a difficult subject but our
willingness to persevere and discovery of our self-belief is what has got us here
today, a day celebrating us and our light. And now after this we share our
light, our knowledge and experience with the exciting new world ahead.
After this ceremony, we will all be parting to go our different ways, now fully
subscribed to this new adulting thing we have been dipping our toes in. I hope
we all take the time to celebrate this moment and give thanks to those that have
helped us get to this stage of our lives. For the international students who took a
leap and moved Portsmouth, and for all of us – the exciting challenges we have
faced have been worth it. To the University and its teaching staff and support
staff, who have shared their knowledge with us and also made our degrees
enjoyable: thank you.

I wish us all the best of luck in our futures and we should be proud of all we
have achieved.



Watch this speech being delivered by Gemma, at 55 minutes into the video. 


Vice Chancellor/ Chancellor, Honoured guests, ladies and gentleman.

Today we are here to celebrate a fantastic achievement for all of us, which we have all
worked very hard to achieve. Well done we did it! 

I am honoured to be representing the students here today. We all have our own reasons
for taking the path we did, but for me the motivation to study hospitality and tourism
came from my love of traveling and meeting people, and there have been many
opportunities to do this in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth is a beautiful city with interesting attractions and coastlines to enjoy. I hope
many of us would agree it’s a great place to have called our second home for the past 3 or 4

Today we are celebrating a great achievement thanks to the dedication of the last few years
of our lives. We have all been on a personal journey and are not the same people who
started our courses. There have been many challenges. Mine have ranged from writing a
dissertation to climbing MT Kilimanjaro. Everyone has faced their own challenges but we
have all overcome and exceeded them to be sitting here today.

We have gained knowledge in our fields and many academic skills whilst at university, 
there are also lessons we have learned which are not in the curriculum such as
independence, self-reliance and adaptability. University will become an unforgettable
time in all our lives thanks to everything we have experienced here in Portsmouth.

A huge thank you must go out to our lecturers. We would like to say thank you for your
teaching and support, this also extends to the university facility services, support tutors,
library staff, wellbeing services, ASK services and the students union.

This is not the end of our journey, we are just at the beginning. And the University of
Portsmouth has been the stepping stone for our futures. I wish all of us the best of luck
for whatever comes next and once again would like to congratulate everyone on our
achievements. I can’t wait to celebrate with you. 


Watch this speech being delivered by Rubie, at 1h 11m into the video. 


Vice-chancellor, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen, Good day,

There is a popular saying that ‘A journey of a thousand miles always begins with a single step’. A
similar one says ‘little drops of water make the mighty ocean’. Both have the same meaning and
recognise that nothing great ever comes to be without the little steps leading to it.

Three or Four years ago, each of us took the first step to begin this journey, similarly, we put in our
first drops to form the mighty ocean that we have gathered to celebrate today. So, I would like to
start by saying congratulations to all my co-graduates, on this phase of our lives.

We remember moments of fear and anxiety about University, deadlines and responsibilities, but
even more, we remember days of sheer joy, laughter and feats achieved. It is the beauty of this
phase, that we learned more about ourselves and others at Portsmouth University where we met
people of diverse backgrounds and learned new ways of doing things.

For most of us, university was not just about the degree we now have in our names, it was also
about services we engaged with offered by the University, the skills and abilities acquired through
various responsibilities given and the ability to deliver results.

The story will be incomplete without acknowledging the ladders and support received to get us here
today. And so, To the supportive and encouraging staff of the University of Portsmouth who went over and above
to ensure our wellbeing, we are grateful, To the union and international office, for supporting
minority student groups, we are grateful and to all the University services who served us in the best
ways, we are grateful.

We can now go home and enjoy this great achievement for the rest of our lives, but soon we see
that the end of any journey is really the beginning of another and while we close this chapter in
excitement, we have to boldly open the next in confidence, hope and strength knowing that we have
been equipped thoroughly for whatever comes our way.

We can say today that we came, we saw and we have indeed conquered.