The University of Bedfordshire’s Class of 2021 are the first cohort to celebrate their graduations in person since the disruption of the pandemic.
Between Wednesday and Friday last week, around 700 students donned their gowns and caps and took to the stage at Luton’s Venue 360 function halls to collect their well-deserved certificates, surrounded by their peers, family and lecturers. An online live-stream was also available for each ceremony.
These ceremonies have been the first to take place face-to-face since November 2019, with graduations throughout 2020 and most of 2021 held online over the past 18 months. Normally housed at St Mary’s Church, this November’s larger graduation venue was chosen to ensure Covid-safety protocols could be followed and to allow the ceremonies to take place with minimal restrictions.
Vice Chancellor Professor Rebecca Bunting applauded the Class of 2021 for their continuing resilience. During her speech she said: “I am delighted that we are able to be here together rather than having to run online ceremonies as we have been doing. What a joyful day this is after everything you have been through – you did it!”
Professor Bunting was joined by the Faculty Executive Deans, Heads of Schools, Beds SU representatives and members of the University’s Board of Governors.
Simon Yun-Farmbrough, Chair of Governors, welcomed and congratulated this year’s graduates. He said: “Your achievements, especially over recent months, have not gone un-noticed and are something that you should all be very proud of. Just as we can be tremendously proud of this great University that we have created together – a place that widens access into higher education to offer the life-changing opportunity of going to university to anyone with the ambition and ability to do so, without regard for their background, their age or their socio-economic status. A University that is proud of its diverse community, committed to offering its students excellent teaching, facilities and the support they need to succeed.”
A selection of notable healthcare student achievement awards were also distributed at the November graduations this year, including the Dr Tony Wood Prize, awarded to most outstanding final year student in the field of healthcare, and the Martin Foss Award (Bedfordshire Freemason’s Prize), presented to a final year student in nursing and midwifery who has made the greatest contribution to the life of the HSS Faculty during their studies. Also presented to an innovative midwifery care student was the Stephanie O’Kane Award, donated to the University in memory of former student and mentor, Stephanie O’Kane.
Following each ceremony a celebratory ‘Graduates Tea’ was held in the adjoining sports hall, where students, their families and staff were able to mingle, congratulate and take photos. The University’s Careers & Employability Service were also on hand to offer advice for graduate employment.