Uni Leavers: A Very Pandemic Graduation
There are millions of students in the UK, and hundreds of thousands of these make their way onto London’s city campuses each and every Autumn. Except in the last 2 years.
2020 and 2021 saw higher education institutions close their doors to students for the first time in living memory, leaving a majority of young people untethered and treading water. What happens when your degree is left unfinished, your lectures move online, and your social activities are suspended?
For most British students, and for generations past, university is a rite of passage. Two whole classes have been robbed of it. Despite, UCAS – the UK based admissions service for higher education – releasing statistics that showed ‘there were almost 730,000 applicants for full-time undergraduate places in 2020, 570,000 of whom were accepted’ it is still a nationwide consensus that many suffered by learning at home.
The bitter pill was made still more bitter by the cancelation of graduation ceremonies, so anticipated by proud parents and families worldwide. Plans were scuppered; the pleasure of taking a seat amongst fellow alumna wearing cape and cap were ruined; the obligatory mantlepiece portraits holding a scroll were simply not on offer. There was no ritual souvenir for reaching the finishing line.
To commemorate such a loss and do our bit to right an almighty wrong, we decided to organise a LONDNR graduate shoot for our latest team members and their friends, in collaboration with Meetini, the cocktail delivery service. So come and meet our group, who graduated in the most improbable year of all.
We documented the students’ experiences of uni life in the pandemic, they got to have their scroll and cap moment, and we even nominated them for ‘Most likely to…’ yearbook awards. And in case you’re wondering, our award would be ‘Best Bosses Ever’ 😉
LONDNR assistant Khadija writes of her ‘zoom school’ experience:
‘University life was often fraught with chaos. From sleepless nights to countless morning coffees. From strangers that became friends, to club raves that never really ended well. It was unforgettable.
Unfortunately, both 2020 and 2021 graduates had their ceremonies cancelled and postponed. Undergoing final year in a pandemic was a challenge to say the least. The lack of in-person teaching combined with the stress of a lengthy dissertation left some of us at peak anxiety.
For us lazy students, the convenience of zoom lectures made attending university easy. We woke in the early hours of the morning, and with one eye open, propped our laptops on our laps. Most of us felt that we were left entirely to our own devices. In spite of the drawbacks, but there were occasional positive aspects.
Many were able to spend some much-needed time with their families, while others learned the value of working from home.
It’s hard to know what the future holds. So, let us raise a glass (or a Meetini cocktail) to our graduates of the new twenties. Congratulations for making it through – this one’s for you.’