Global Graduation Ceremonies

Graduation – anytime, anywhere

It is, in the UK at least, near the end of the season for graduation ceremonies. But as Nigel Thrift observed in a recent piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education there are likely to be ceremonies taking place across the globe, year round.

Graduates are getting younger every year...

Thrift notes that

the globalization of higher education means that it can no longer be assumed that all graduation ceremonies take place in one place. Making ceremonies in places which were not designed for the purpose can be a real challenge and simply having robes to hand does not work.

Probably, at some point during the year, somewhere in the world, there is a graduation ceremony taking place. At one time, it looked like these events might become a thing of the past but the apparatus of gowns, music, certificates, photographs, and films now just seems to keep on expanding. One for the anthropologists to explain.

It is perhaps strange how the traditions of the graduation ceremony have survived and indeed flourished across the world. However, as noted above, globalisation means that a lot of universities are now organising ceremonies in different parts of the globe. Wherever in the world the ceremonies are though they remain a major logistical exercise and a lot more effort than simply having the robes to hand (although that in itself can have a major impact on travelling staff luggage allowances).

At the University of Nottingham we have summer and winter ceremonies out our UK, China and Malaysia campuses (I think nearly 40 a year in total) and, despite all following the same rubric, they each have a distinctive character. And it is fair to say that the dress code in both China and Malaysia, where it tends to be a little bit warmer at this time of year, is generally rather more relaxed than in the UK. Perhaps a bit too relaxed at times – I do think we should draw the line at flip flops.

Research universities should consider merging

Research universities should “consider merging”

According to a report of a speech by Nigel Thrift, vice-chancellor of Warwick:

The top 30 could merge, either with each other or with big American universities, and contemplate bringing in more private providers or collaborate together more formally. Foreign merger or takeover might solve chronic university underfunding, he said, and produce “interesting scientific synergies” if UK and US universities joined.

Although it looks a bit bald here there are, I think, some interesting thoughts underlying this about the way in which universities can collaborate successfully for mutual benefit. Although this is not just about mergers, the idea that currently highly successful institutions would merge for longer term sustainability (rather than as a result of some form of crisis) is a novel one.

Additionally:

The alternative could be the slow decline of institutions unable to produce enough research papers, clusters of top academics or scientific facilities to keep up with the world leaders. He also raised the possibility of private ownership of a few, which would increase diversity and relieve stretched higher education funding. Universities already face squeezed public and private funding and caps on student numbers because of the recession and Thrift argued that international competition would “intensify markedly” for the estimated 150 million students worldwide in 2010. Research-intensive institutions would be hit most severely by increased competition from other countries as they recovered from the recession, he said.

So, the situation is grim and this is one way out. But will Russell and 94 Group universities see things this way?