Last month, ANU announced changes to the graduation schedule that are set to come into effect in 2025. According to the University’s website, from next year all ANU graduations will be streamlined into a single week per year, held from the end of March to the start of April. 

The 2025 graduation ceremony will take place from 31 March to 4 April 2025, and is inclusive of graduates who will complete their program and are originally eligible to graduate this December. Meanwhile, the July 2024 graduation ceremony will proceed as usual, becoming the final of its kind.

A University spokesperson told Woroni that the new schedule, “will bring the full graduating year together to celebrate at the same time.” The change will align graduations “with other University-wide events, such as Open Day, creating an enlivened campus atmosphere”, according to the University website

The change was announced to the ANU community through a University-wide email at the end of June, during the winter break. 

The ANU spokesperson told Woroni, “completing a certificate, diploma or degree at ANU is a significant academic achievement and is rightly celebrated”. 

The spokesperson maintains, “The placement of graduations within the academic year was looked at closely by a dedicated working group, as is conventional for such matters. This working group included student representatives, including ANUSA, and we thank them for their invaluable contribution.”

However, on a facebook post, ANUSA Undergraduate Coursework Officer, Harrison Oates, claimed that, “At the [Academic Quality Assurance Committee (AQAC) meeting] 1 in March a resolution was passed to transmit up to Academic Board a recommendation that would see graduations occur in early February and September from 2026, based on a report from a specially-convened working group which recommended the model.”

He continues, “I was broadly in support of this change to alleviate some pressure on our staff from tight deadlines and to ensure that people with deferred assessments could graduate on time with their cohort.” 

However, Oates wrote, “This announced change is NOT what was endorsed. For the uni to change the system a full year earlier, and in a manner completely different to the recommendations, is deeply disappointing.”

Oates sits on the AQAC board, along with ANUSA Postgraduate Coursework Officer Rishik Reddy Maram. 

ANUSA representatives are also currently collecting feedback on the new changes. 

At present, the implementation of the new schedule has been met with its fair share of criticism. 

One student shared that because their family and friends live internationally, they had, “already booked tickets (to attend the December graduation), half of which are non-refundable.” The student also mentioned the inconvenience the sudden change brought on each of their family’s personal schedules, especially because they had “been coordinating this graduation with [their] whole family since January.”

The student alleged that the December graduation had been removed from the University’s 2024 official calendar, “at least by mid-May with no formal announcement”, something which they say “should have been made with a year’s notice, not a semester’s.”

Another student who was due to graduate this December told Woroni that they had already made “very costly overseas plans” intended for March to April 2025, all of which will now coincide with the postponed graduation ceremony while leaving them “without appropriate compensation.”

The student also mentioned that because of an adverse health condition, they had already previously deferred their original graduation from this July to December, but “the sudden change has failed to consider the immense health accommodations that chronically ill students like [themselves] have to navigate just to survive.” 

They further stated that the University’s announcement of the change “from 2025” was “misleading and unconscionable”, as it failed to imply the changes to December’s’ ceremony as well. 

A third student, who had “moved interstate to study [in Canberra]”, said that the change had similarly negatively affected her as her family had “re-arranged plans so that [they] could travel to Canberra for [her] graduation.” 

She was disappointed, “that the achievement of finishing university with [her] family in Canberra has been taken away from [her] with no consultation”, further explaining that she has no intention to attend the postponed April graduation next year as “it will feel weird and delayed and self-congratulatory to celebrate the achievement of finishing university 6 months after [she] has actually finished university.”

These problems are likely to be more relevant for international students who have tight time frames for their visas and will likely need to extend their visas or apply for a different visa if the graduation time frame does not apply to their current one. International students facing these difficulties are encouraged by the University to attend ANUSA’s migration workshops

The University continues to accept feedback on the implementation of the change, saying that they “will provide updates to staff and students when appropriate”. 

Meanwhile, they ask those who would like to leave their comments, to do so here.

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