Unique celebration for Class of 2020

Unique celebration for Class of 2020

For the first time in its history, Heriot-Watt University is set to host a series of virtual celebrations across all five of its global campuses in recognition of the class of 2020.

Around 3,000 graduates from around the world are expected to come together with invited friends and family, to watch an online broadcast of videos and messages from their former classmates as well as the Principal and other senior staff and student representatives. In a celebration like no other hosted by the University, a total of 19 online events have been planned with the first launching today (Wednesday 22 July). 

These virtual celebrations are in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has forced the University to postpone its traditional summer graduation ceremonies. The virtual celebrations do not replace the chance for students to attend a traditional, on campus ceremony in the future but offer something for graduates to participate in now, to recognise and celebrate their own and their peers’ achievements during the pandemic.

We are doing as much as we can to make sure our graduates don’t miss out on their chance to celebrate this important milestone and support them afterwards to help them with their next venture and ensure success.

Kerryn Kirkpatrick, Head of Development and Alumni at Heriot-Watt University

Each graduate will become a unique part of the University’s history having completed their studies amidst the health crisis.

Professor Richard A. Williams, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, passed on his congratulations to all graduates, saying: “In the near 200-year history of Heriot-Watt, there has never been a student cohort which has had to complete their studies under lockdown conditions as a result of a global pandemic.

“This resilience and ability to achieve during the most challenging of conditions, stands as testament to the resourcefulness of our students and highlights the dedication of our academic and professional staff who have shown tremendous flexibility and ingenuity to continue to deliver our teaching programme.

“Everyone at this University understands the disappointment felt by our graduating students who are unable to celebrate their achievements in person with their friends, family and classmates, and we as a global One Watt community share in those feelings.  However, our virtual celebrations are an opportunity for our graduates to join together with family and friends to reflect on and celebrate their significant success. We look forward to hosting traditional, on campus graduation ceremonies in the future, where graduates, their families and staff can come together in celebration.”

Graduation certificates will be sent to all graduates over the summer with additional information about this available online.

Kerryn Kirkpatrick, Head of Development and Alumni at Heriot-Watt University said,  “We are doing as much as we can to make sure our graduates don’t miss out on their chance to celebrate this important milestone and support them afterwards to help them with their next venture and ensure success. New graduates can access a range of support, tailored for the specific challenges they face. This support - delivered through our Future Made for Success programme and benefiting from HWU’s strong industry links - includes industry-backed careers support, opportunities to continue post graduate study, dedicated digital events and webinars, networking opportunities and digital job fairs, mentoring from our alumni.”

Heriot-Watt is planning to hold additional formal graduation congregation ceremonies for its class of 2020 in the future when it is safe to do so when the class of 2020 will be able to cross the graduation stage in a full academic gown and catch up with friends.  And for anyone unable to attend, they will have the opportunity to attend any ceremony in Scotland, Dubai or Malaysia in the next two years.

The virtual celebrations open today for graduates who studied at Heriot-Watt’s UK campuses. A further two dates are set for students in Dubai (23 July) and Malaysia (24 July).

COVID-19 help and advice

The University is monitoring the coronavirus COVID-19 guidance and acting on the latest official health and travel advice relevant to each campus in the UK, Dubai and Malaysia.

If you have any of the following symptoms you should book a test online or call 0800 028 2816 if unable to access the online service:

  • a new continuous cough
  • fever/high temperature
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste.

If you are a student or member of staff and have any concerns about symptoms or interaction with others please contact SafeGuarding through the SafeZone app or on 0131 451 3500.

More information can be found on our dedicated help site.


Craig McManamon