Graduation can be a daunting experience, both for the graduates and their families.
Not any more, Dr Sandra Wearden, an associate member of the Centre for Higher Education Research and Evaluation at Lancaster University, has published A Guide to Degree Ceremonies.
The first guide book of its kind covering UK higher education institutions, it is expected to become the go-to book for those leaving university.
She explains: “While I was conducting my own PhD research at degree ceremonies, people would come and ask me to explain everything; many attendees don’t know what all the rituals and academic dress mean.
“The idea for the book was born.”
Dr Wearden adds: “My guide, written in an accessible style with illustrations by Lancaster artist John Elles, is an informative collectable souvenir for students and their parents.”
Dr Wearden says: “The graduation ceremony has a special status: it’s the moment when the graduating student is awarded with their degree and becomes a life member of the university.
“Degree ceremonies are more celebratory today than they were in recent decades.
“This is a huge growth area, as it is estimated that by 2025 there will be a staggering 262 million students in higher education globally with around 20 million graduating each year.”
With this in mind she has recently founded a new business, Degree Ceremonies Ltd, supported by Lancaster University’s Enterprise Team.
It aims to provide institutions with research and consultancy services for their own degree ceremonies. Her guide is the first product released by the new business.
Dr Wearden completed her PhD in Educational Research at Lancaster University in 2017.
She says: “Lancaster University aims to see research outcomes make a real impact in society.”
“In my case, that is sharing knowledge about degree ceremonies to enhance the enjoyment of attending them and increase awareness of their historical and contemporary significance.”
Sandra, who lives in Lancaster, has worked as a diplomat and a management consultant. She is believed to be only the third person in 800 years to have studied this area at doctoral level.