UTS to Replace Physical Graduation with Online Ceremony

Tristan White

The University of Technology, Sydney has announced it will be removing all physical graduation ceremonies in favour of an electronic video ceremony, accessible via UTSOnline.

This bold move was announced in an email sent to all students by the Vice Deputy Executive Officer yesterday, as part of the university’s broader transition to prioritising virtual teaching above face-to-face learning.

“One of UTS’s core values includes embracing new technology, and now that the internet is a commodity that can be accessed by all students it only makes sense to make it possible to graduate online.”

It was stressed there would be no changes to the ceremony fee, including cap and gown hire; but instead of travelling into the city, graduating students will now be able to simply watch a video of the ceremony from their home computer.

“Feedback from previous graduates indicated they wanted to be able to invite more guests to the ceremony,” the email continued. “With our new online graduation system, you will be able invite however many people can cram into your 4-cubic metre unit to watch with you.”

“What’s more, students will not be required to dress up in the gown . All students need to do is pretend the names read out in the video are their own, and it will exactly replicate a physical ceremony.”

Despite positive publicity from the university, many students have lingering doubts.

“It’s hard not to feel taken advantage of! I think it makes me more aware that unis aren’t just there to educate you, they’re also businesses trying to make a profit,” one student told Vertigo. Another said “it seems like it’s a sly move to make it cheaper for UTS.”

A spokesperson for the Vice Chancellor defended the university’s decision, explaining that the “university’s focus is on outcomes, not the portion of its activities that happen to be face-to-face rather than online,” noting that the system “gives students more freedom.”

“Instead of organising a day off, students can now watch the graduation video whenever they choose, and they can watch it again and again when feeling down, to re-live the elation of passing their course in the Balanced Teaching Periods system.”

The UTS Council did not formally respond to Vertigo about other potential changes, however insiders hinted that there had been discussions about phasing out physical exams for remotely-accessed online ones, if they could find a system that ensure students do not cheat.

“At this point, the plan is to assume all students have cheated, and the burden rests on the student to prove otherwise,” a spokesperson suggested.

“If we could achieve that, it would be final stepping stone of our mission to completely rid the university of face-to-face interaction. With all physical classes and graduation ceremonies abolished, removing centrally conducted exams would make any physical attendance of uni redundant. Perhaps we could then sell off all our campus land and buildings!”

A spokesperson for Universities Australia said the Board of Directors commended the changes.

“Once again, UTS has shown great foresight and innovation by introducing a new graduation system to ensure that it continues to prioritise a high quality educational experience above bureaucracy,” he stated. He noted it was a pity that other institutions had not yet committed to making to similar changes, but hoped that they would be forced to in order to remain competitive.

“Student feedback will speak for itself,” he concluded.

The videos for graduating students, including links to order and pay for softcopies of their degrees, are available here.