The University of York has cited a diverse range of faiths among the student body as the main reason for graduation ceremonies to continue to be held in Central Hall, as opposed to York Minster.
Much attention has been brought to the issue by the fact that York St. John University students hold their graduation ceremonies in the Minster, something that many University of York students view as unfair.
However, Rosemary Goerisch, Assistant Registrar, stated that York St John “has a Christian foundation”, whereas the University of York has secular origins, and so a ceremony at the Minster would not be appropriate.
Nonetheless, with five per cent of York St John students being from an ethnic minority and five per cent coming from abroad, there have been suggestions that the amount of students from a non-Christian background is unlikely to be significantly different from the University of York.
Traditionally, the University graduation ceremonies have always been held in Central Hall, although many students have voiced their disappointment that the venue for graduation is not York Minster, a much more picturesque location for the special occasion. One first-year student from Goodricke said: “I was really disappointed when I saw people graduating from Central Hall. Considering we all live in York, it only seems right [that] we utilise their most beautiful building.”
Graduating in the Minster would also be an additional attraction to prospective students and their parents. For many international students who study at York, the beautiful, historic city was a considerable attraction for choosing the University of York over other universities in the UK. Amy Hey, PR and Communications Officer for York St John University, said: “Students feel honoured to receive their degree in such an atmospheric building. The university receives many comments from both students and their families expressing their enjoyment of ceremonies in the Minster.”
Tim Ngwena, YUSU President, stated that other YUSU officers had looked into campaigning for the Minster to be the venue for graduation at the start of his term in office. Ngwena agreed that “we have a diverse range of students. However, the biggest constraint is that international and home students alike have time commitments after finishing their degrees. This is difficult to fit in with the availability of the Minster.”