As that time of year has arrived; where graduands become graduates, it seemed fitting, and unaddressed, to compare the awards ceremony between prestigious and former polytechnic universities.
As the alumni of a polytechnic, going on to do a Master’s degree at a ‘prestigious’ (a term I loathe) Red Brick university, it is a comparison I found intriguing and relatable.
To begin with, the ceremony I have recently attended at my poly I found to be very extravagant and formal- in a good way.
A fanfare of trumpets greeted the lecturers and chancellors as they entered the room, and the traditional red carpet was rolled out for the students to accept their awards.
The question that stuck in my mine however, was why.
Why, after a three year diet of cheap alcohol, ready- to- eat chicken and micro- rice, combined with casual language and compulsively casual dress code for lectures, did our university decide now was paramount to conform to the established ideals of the upper classes and elite universities.
Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed all of this- but wondered what was the necessity of it all, and how did my ceremony compare to other universities.
In comparison to the arguably most prestigious university of them all, Oxford still conducts its ceremonies in Latin as it has likely done so since its founding in 1096.
Evidently there will be students there who speak not a word of Latin- so what is the importance of upholding this tradition.
The Guardian journalist Owen Jones does much to answer questions surrounding the tradition of the elites in his book ‘The Establishment’, and, having read history at Oxford, is more capable than I in addressing said questions.
His distaste for the establishment and all it stands for is evident from the start. Yet he notes how contacts from Oxford have to a certain extent helped his career.
So perhaps the reason for this continued tradition of ceremonies in Latin is to strengthen the bonds between the university’s alumni and to partition them from the masses of students from other institutions, who also follow a formal procession.
Elitism and superiority are two words that are closely relatable to Oxford University, and to show difference from the numerous polytechnics such as my own former institution, they still seem to cling to aspects of their university heritage that are clearly redundant.
… as this is a fashion blog, I should probably relate this article back to it.
How amazing are the robes, like seriously, seeing my lecturers in all their graduation colours was very special, and added to the occasion.
This is a tradition I hope will never change, as there has been few better feelings in my life than putting on those ill fitting, awkward to walk in robes.
Lecturers from the University of Manchester adorned their fully purple robes, while those from Leeds wore green ones, and, so my mine drifted, made me want to complete a doctorate simply to gain more colourful and wonderful robes.
The only sad moment of the day was returning them, as to buy them would cost around £400.
However, one had to note on the lax filing system and security of the robe distributors whose job was to ensure the safe return of the robes- I would not be surprised if many were pinched as a result.