News - May 19, 2016

Degree ceremony too large-scale?

Carina Nieuwenweg,Twan van der Slikke

Thanks to the growing student numbers at Wageningen University, degree ceremonies can be crowded occasions. Students have to provide the information for their ‘personal word’ themselves and sometimes there are so many candidates that they are addressed three at a time. How bad is that?

Illustration Henk van Ruitenbeek

Tom Vrolings, Recently got his MSc in Biology

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‘I got my Master’s degree in November with about 30 other students. I didn’t find the degree ceremony impersonal. The atmosphere was much more formal than for the Bachelor’s, though. People were more smartly dressed, there was a bigger audience, and a number of professors and the master of ceremonies were in academic gowns. All the students were taken to a little room before the ceremony, where the rules were explained to us by the MC, and we were lined up in alphabetical order. During the ceremony we were called up one by one and something was said about each student. It was mainly about what you had achieved in your thesis and internship and about your career plans. Something else that made the graduation personal for me was that all the biologists got a rose from Biologica. I also got a testimonial from Biologica for my contribution as a member of the Activities Committee.’

Marieke Kil, Student Council member for VeSte

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‘I think it’s a pity that graduation ceremonies have become less personal. After all, it’s a milestone in your student life. Now you pass it rather hurriedly. I did notice that it varied from one programme to another and that it depends a lot on your study advisor. At my ceremony we got to hand in an account of our extra-curricular activities and something was said about that. But my housemate’s degree ceremony was much less personal, and that is a shame. Your family and friends come all the way to Wageningen for it. I don’t think the degree ceremonies automatically have to become less personal because of the increased student numbers. The university could easily research what students want and what is feasible. That might make the ceremony half an hour longer.’

Bram Wennekes, Recently got his MSc in Earth and Environment

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‘I didn’t find my degree ceremony too impersonal. There was a short five- to ten-minute talk about each of the 15 students present. That was done by a professor from the student’s department. All the students present did have to fill in a form beforehand, with questions about everything they had done while at university. That form was used for the talk, but the professor who talked about me brought in something of his own too. I was very pleased that there was a talk about every student and drinks afterwards in Hotel De Wereld. And I got a rose with a card from my study association, and a certificate.’

Tom Arfman,Ex-chair of study association Alchimica

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‘I think it’s a pity the ceremonies aren’t more personal. Your parents and family come along and they expect something more than a generalized talk about the degree programme. But it’s a shame for you too. You put a lot of time and energy into your study over at least three years. So the degree ceremony is a summing-up of everything you’ve done and a nice rounding-off. It contributes to the feeling that you’ve achieved something. I have talked about this with our study advisor and I do understand that it’s getting more difficult with the increasing student numbers.’

Wilbert Houweling, Secretary of the Examinations Committee for Social Sciences


‘The Exams Committee is responsible for organization the Bachelor’s degree ceremonies for the social sciences degrees. I was present at the last two ceremonies and I got the impression that the exam candidates and guests liked the way the ceremonies went. The first time I was in a hall with 20 candidates. Counting the guests as well there were 120 people in the room. The number of candidates at a degree ceremony varies. In October last year there were between 120 and 140 and in April only 20. In both cases the candidates could submit some information themselves. Before then the supervisor used to take time to meet them but that was very time-consuming. We always organize the ceremonies with the board members of the study associations Mercurius and Ipso Facto. They know what people think of the ceremonies and whether there are any complaints. As far as I am concerned we should carry on doing it the same way.’

Tom Tilleman, MSc student of Management, Economics and Consumer Studies

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‘I passed my Bachelor’s last June and got my degree in October. Beforehand everyone had to send in something about themselves and their experiences and you could include nice photos if you wanted. During the ceremony the study advisor called up three students at a time and presented them. If students hadn’t sent anything in not much was said about them. It wasn’t very personal but I don’t think that’s appropriate or possible at university. A university is very large and students are autonomous. So it’s difficult for a study advisor to say something personal about all the candidates. I did think it was a pity we had to sit in the hall in alphabetical order. That meant I couldn’t sit with my friends.’