Earlier this month Brasenose College held our graduation event, when students who have recently completed their courses return to Oxford to celebrate the end of their studies, along with their families and other guests. This year Brasenose had 105 undergraduates finishing their courses, and we were delighted that 41 achieved first-class degrees (20 women, 21 men) and a further 54 secured a 2:1 classification.
The festivities began in the morning, when students and guests gathered in the College, and then walked across Radcliffe Square in a crocodile line to the Sheldonian Theatre, a breath-taking building designed by Sir Christopher Wren during the restoration period. The theatre is in the very heart of Oxford only two minutes’ walk away from Brasenose, and graduating students often have a sense of nostalgia about the place, as it is where they will have “matriculated” several years ago. Matriculation is a similar celebration to graduation, only at the beginning of academic courses.
The graduation ceremony itself has retained the same essential features from when degrees were first awarded in Oxford 800 years ago or more. Students are led to the Sheldonian by a tutor, in this case Dr Llewelyn Morgan. Once inside, each student is presented to the Vice-Chancellor and Proctors in groups before leaving the theatre briefly to put on special gowns that signify their graduation, then re-entering to wild applause. Relatives not attending the ceremony itself stayed behind at Brasenose to watch proceeding through a live feed beamed on to a big screen in our Amersi lecture theatre.
Once the graduation has been completed for everyone, Brasenose students returned to the College for a party, with parents and other relatives joining them. A marquee, a jazz band, canapés and drinks were all provided, and many photos were taken. Although it’s true that there was a sense of poignancy due to the fact that the graduating students will never study and live together as a single group again, bonds made at Brasenose are very strong, and friendships forged at the College continue for life. Furthermore, one of the strengths of Oxford Colleges is that graduates remain members of College, and former students are invited again to Brasenose regularly for reunions (which we call “gaudies”) or just to casually drop by.
PPE student Tom Steer, who attended Caistor Grammar School near Grimsby commented: “I've loved the three years I've had at Brasenose and will miss it immensely. I can't believe the friends I've met and experiences I've had. Graduation was a fantastic celebration of that, and it was particularly nice to have my family there in support.”
Although remaining students, tutors and staff are always sad to see students leave, there is no time for standing still – the College is in a constant state of renewal. During July Brasenose hosted around 200 University of Oxford UNIQ summer schools students. We hope that many of these students will form part of the College’s future. Next month we will be welcoming prospective applicants during our September 20th undergraduate Open Days, the final open days of the year, following the summer dates in early July. Then, in early October our new students will be arriving, just beginning their time at Brasenose College, and attending their matriculation ceremony at the Sheldonian Theatre during freshers week.