Science - November 24, 2005

Graduates happy with degree ceremony

Recent graduates from Wageningen are generally satisfied with how their degree ceremony went. A survey was held among almost two hundred people who graduated in July and September.

In the past there have been regular complaints about the ceremony. The talks held about each graduate were said to be too technical and impersonal, and the ceremony lasted too long. At the beginning of this year the examinations committees, which are responsible for the degree ceremonies, promised to improve things.

The first reactions about the new-style ceremony held in March were positive. Nevertheless the examinations committees decided to be on the safe side and held a survey. Dr Paul Berentsen of the joint examinations committee: ‘We suspected that the negative image was based on incidents from the past. But to be able to defend ourselves against the criticism we decided to take a more structured look at the opinions of the graduates themselves.’

Those opinions are largely positive, even though there were two students who indicated they were so dissatisfied with their ceremony that they refused to fill in the questionnaire. Most students, however, indicated that they were happy with how their own graduation ceremony had gone. Even the individual talks that had been so criticised came out positively, although some students thought it was a shame that they had to provide the information themselves.

Berentsen is hoping to introduce further improvements. ‘Starting with the next degree ceremony we will be getting more detailed information in advance from student administration. This way we can find people who know the students and make the talks more personal.’

Another point that came out of the survey is that students would like an informal drinks session afterwards. Berentsen: ‘Because we often hold as many as four graduations on one day, it is difficult to organise a drink afterwards in the Aula. But we are still looking at what we can do here.’

The examinations committees plan to hold a similar survey twice a year in the future. / JH