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Report of the Council on the days of General Admission to Degrees

The COUNCIL beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. Regulation 13 of the regulations for the presentation and admission of candidates for degrees (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 181) provides that the days of General Admission shall be the Friday and Saturday after either the third or fourth Sunday in June, depending on the date on which Full Easter Term begins. In recent years the final session on the Saturday evening has ended as late as 9 p.m., a most unsatisfactory situation for all concerned. Moreover, the proceedings on the Friday and Saturday are so compressed that the staff on duty in the Senate House are physically exhausted by the close of proceedings on the Saturday evening. The situation will become worse as the number of graduands increases.

2. There is the further problem that the number of guests who can be admitted to the Senate-House has had to be reduced to no more than 325 on grounds of health and safety. This is likely to result in more Colleges seeking to have their graduation ceremonies divided into two sessions, thereby extending the timetable even further.

3. These problems might be alleviated by speeding up the existing proceedings, for example by abolishing the processions at the start and end of sessions and by having graduands presented by praelectors en bloc rather than in groups of four. Such expedients would save a little time, but insufficient to make any significant improvement in the timetable; moreover, they would tend to make the proceedings less dignified and less attractive to graduands and their guests.

4. The Council have concluded that if any significant improvement is to be made in the arrangements for General Admission, a move to three days is inescapable.

5. One possible solution would be for General Admission to extend into the following week, perhaps comprising the Friday and Saturday, as at present, together with the Sunday or Monday of the following week. There are many objections to requiring staff to be on duty in the Senate-House on both Saturday and Sunday; and the Council believe that the use of either the Sunday or the Monday of the following week would be unattractive to the Colleges concerned. The Council conclude that the only feasible way of improving the arrangements for General Admission is for the proceedings to begin one day earlier than at present, namely on the Thursday, and to extend over the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

6. The Council have considered whether, if the above proposal is accepted, the whole of the Thursday should be used for the conferment of degrees, or only the Thursday afternoon. At present the graduation ceremony for each of the four largest Colleges, namely Trinity, St John's, Girton, and Homerton, is divided into two sessions. In order to provide scope for further Colleges to divide into two sessions, if they wish, and to allow morning sessions to begin a little later than at present, the Council propose that the whole of the Thursday should be used for the conferment of degrees. Proceedings on the Saturday afternoon would then finish before 5.30 p.m. If only the Thursday afternoon were used, the scope for further dividing would be reduced, and the proceedings would finish later.

7. The Council have been advised that no consequential changes are needed to the regulations for the publication of class-lists, provided that improved procedures can be introduced in the Registry for checking the standing of graduands, prior to the posting in the Schools Arcade of the list of graduands which has been certified as correct by the Registrary. The Council have agreed to ensure that the necessary resources are made available for this purpose.

8. If the Council's proposals are approved, the timetable for proceedings at General Admission would be along the lines of that set out in the Appendix to this Report. The order of the Colleges follows that specified in Regulation 12 of the regulations for the presentation and admission of candidates for degrees. It would be open to particular Colleges to propose variations in that order, in accordance with Regulation 15 of those regulations. It would also be open to Colleges with relatively large numbers of graduands currently proceeding at a single session to propose a division into two sessions if they wished.

9. The Council propose that the new arrangements should come into effect from General Admission in the year 2000.

10. The Council recommend:

That, with effect from 1 October 1999, the regulations for admission to degrees (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 179) be amended as follows:

Regulation 13.

By amending the regulation so as to read:

13. In every year the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday after the third Sunday in June shall be days of General Admission to Degrees, save that, in accordance with Regulation 3 for Terms and Long Vacation, in any year in which Full Easter Term begins on or after 22 April the days of General Admission shall be the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday after the fourth Sunday in June. On each day of General Admission there shall be one or more Congregations for General Admission to Degrees at such hours as the Vice-Chancellor shall appoint.

Regulation 15.

By replacing the word 'four' by the word 'several'.

22 February 1999



Proposed order of proceedings at General Admission

Thursday morning Friday morning Saturday morning
King's College
Trinity College
St John's College
Queens' College
St Catharine's College
Jesus College
Christ's College
Newnham College
Selwyn College
Fitzwilliam College
Churchill College
New Hall
Thursday afternoon Friday afternoon Saturday afternoon
Clare College
Pembroke College
Gonville and Caius College
Trinity Hall
Corpus Christi College
Magdalene College
Emmanuel College
Sidney Sussex College
Downing College
Girton College
Darwin College
Wolfson College
Clare Hall
Robinson College
Lucy Cavendish College
St Edmund's College
Hughes Hall
Homerton College

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Cambridge University Reporter, 24 February 1999
Copyright © 1999 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.