Disappointment among students denied the chance to don their caps and gowns at glittering graduation ceremonies continues for another year. However, one Scottish university has developed an inventive means of ensuring the class of 2021 still see their names in lights.
Edinburgh Napier has launched a 'city takeover' to give graduates the recognition they deserve, with hundreds of names emblazoned on billboards, bus stops, trams, and taxis from now until the end of August – an impressive campaign supported by digital components.
Each graduate mention from all six academic schools will be accompanied by messages of congratulations underlining the university's pride in its soon-to-be alumni, aiming to give those missing out on traditional celebrations an extra dose of excitement and fulfillment.
Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal and Vice Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University says:
"The last 16 months have presented students with formidable challenges as they have had to adjust to different ways of learning while coping with all of the disruptions the pandemic has caused to our normal way of life.
Our graduates have shown enormous resilience and strength of character in completing their studies during this period of upheaval, and we wanted to show them just how proud we are of what they have achieved. It's a huge achievement to graduate, and we wanted to give students the same euphoria you get when your names are called out on stage."
Sites showcasing names are linked to academic disciplines; those graduating from the School of Health and Social Care will find their citations near hospitals, for example.
The initiative, prompted by Scottish pandemic restrictions putting paid to in-person events for a second year running, is supported with a digital platform allowing graduates to find the location of their name and download the poster via the 'Find My Billboard' feature on the university website. Students could enter in their student number and they would be pointed to the Billboard that mentioned their name... Amazing!
A poignant message to those landing on the page reads: "There's no stage or ceremony or fancy gown this year, but we still want to tell the world how proud we are of you."
And, judging by the reception on social media, it seems that this creative form of public recognition has touched graduates and all of those supporting them in the intended way.
Niamh Fellenger says: "Yippee! A little bit of recognition goes a long way. Super exciting to see my name on Calder Road along with the other applied science graduates."
Shereen Mir tweets: "Super excited to see my name featured on the streets of Edinburgh, UK! Billboards, bus stops, trams, and taxis across the city are honoring students who have fought against all odds and attained their graduation status. I am super-duper proud to be one of them!
Marc Harvey says: "As much as it hurts to have not had a proper graduation, seeing this really has put a smile on my face. Such a wonderful idea from @EdinburghNapier. Massive thank you to everyone involved in making this happen! #napiernames
Meanwhile, David Allfrey comments: "This initiative #Napiernames is a case study in how an innovative institution and its people can turn a disappointment into a triumph, not only showcasing all that has been achieved – in the past, present and future – but also highlighting a vision, ethos and way. Inspiring!"
Film will capture the takeover, further complemented by a social media campaign under #NapierNames and local radio advertising. And students will also have the chance to go to campus for gowned-up souvenir photos.
We've already seen many universities in America hold online graduation ceremonies this year, with supporting initiatives including downloadable merchandise packs for home celebrations and poignant public video messages from friends and family.
What has your university or college done to mark the achievements of students in the absence of traditional events? How have you used your city as part of your University or College marketing campaigns? We'd love to hear more ideas in the comments section below, on social, or simply send us an email.