NUI Galway graduates have been expressing their disappointment and anger towards the university after this year’s series of virtual graduations.
Described by one graduate as an “insult,” the virtual ceremonies took place after NUI Galway President Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh informed students that he believed it was in the best interest of students and families to hold the graduations online.
“Based on the public health advice at this time, we do not anticipate that we could congregate on campus in sufficient numbers to celebrate our Autumn Conferring ceremonies in ways that would be safe – and meaningful – for our graduands, their families and friends, and their lecturers,” Ó hÓgartaigh stated in an email sent to all students earlier in the summer.
Psychology Graduate, Cara Ní Chofaigh, who shared her experiences with SIN said that the virtual ceremony was a “disgrace” and that “my poor nana made a trip up from Kerry for it but I honestly feel like she wasted a trip (…) because years of hard work and money were just not acknowledged.”
This was echoed amongst other graduates, even from within NUI Galway’s new Oifeach na Gaeilge with SU Officer Eimear Ni Oireachtaigh telling SIN that “As a student who had spent four years in Galway, it was incredibly frustrating to see an online graduation happen mere days before I returned to campus as a masters student. I was prepared to make the most of it, travelling up to Galway for pictures on the Quad, and going out for a meal with my family. However, although my expectations were low, I was still disappointed.
“The stream then froze multiple times, and even broke down entirely. I was lucky that my course wasn’t affected, but I can’t imagine how much worse it would have been if this was your one way of celebrating a huge achievement. The university later apologised through email and on social media, but in my personal opinion it just isn’t good enough,” she finished.
In response to the backlash, NUI Galway have told SIN that although it is the personal preference of the college to hold in-person graduations for all graduates, “due to the prevailing public health guidelines, and as the health and safety of our University community is paramount, it has not been possible to host these events during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
NUI Galway have offered their sincere “apologies for the disruption to the virtual conferring ceremony on Wednesday 25th August,” and have told SIN that they “are particularly sorry to anyone who did not experience the joy of being publicly recognised for their studies. The technical issue was beyond our control and a link to a recording of the ceremony was made available shortly after the conferring ended.”
NUI Galway also confirmed that their IT specialists have launched a review of the issue to ensure that it does not happen again.
They concluded by saying “We would like to thank all those who took part in virtual conferring and we wish our graduates every success for the future.”
NUI Galway reopened its doors to students and staff on the 6th of September after new Covid-19 guidelines for universities were implemented.
Cara Ní Chofaigh, who has re-enrolled in NUI Galway for a masters, concluded by telling SIN that she would be more than happy to attend an in-person celebration should another event be organised for the graduating class in the future now that campus has reopened.