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A group of graduates from AUB throw their mortar board hats into the air while standing on Bournemouth Beach

Making the most of graduation


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Graduation is a major event – it’s your chance to celebrate your achievements and degree with the rest of AUB, as well as having a great time with friends.

There’s plenty you can do to make sure you make the most of this special day, which we’ll cover in this article alongside 2023 graduates Paris Higson and Amy Clifford who’ll share their experience, as well as Graduation organiser, Senior Events Officer Naomi Ryan.

Why attend?

Graduation is one of the biggest events at AUB, and it’s your last too. We want you to remember it’s a chance for everyone to come together in achievement, students and staff alike, and celebrate the end of your degree – in style. As Naomi comments:

“You've studied your chosen creative discipline for years and honed your craft. Now, suddenly that moment you've dreamed of throughout your studies of finally crossing the stage is just around the corner and becoming a reality! This is a milestone occasion and not one to be missed.”

Paris and Amy both felt motivated to attend graduation from the get-go:

“I wanted to celebrate the past three years and reflect on what I’d achieved, which can be difficult," says Paris. "But standing there in robes and walking down the stage, you get a real feeling of pride. Celebrating with friends and family also drew me to the event more, creating a memorable end to my university journey.”

“It’s a chance to dress up and celebrate with all your friends for the three years of hard work you put in," Amy adds. "It’s nice being surrounded by your classmates, as you get to share your last few moments before you get your degree.”

As your university, we’re here to celebrate and party with you on this special occasion. But there’s a few things you need to do beforehand.

Getting ready

Preparing for Graduation is essential, and here’s what we’d recommend doing.

Once you leave AUB, you become alumni. Stepping out into the world with less connections can be daunting, so be sure to check out AUB& – this is our alumni network where you can connect with any previous students and check out what they’re up to. Naomi also recommends regularly checking your student email:

“We'll send you lots of emails with information about the big day that will help you prepare. We also have a really detailed web page that’ll answer all your burning questions as a great resource to share with family, friends and supporters.”

On an emotional level, graduation is a chance to finally let your hair down and celebrate all the hard work that’s paid off.

Paris explains, “I think the best thing you can do is not over-think it, although it’s nerve-wracking! Take a step back and enjoy the build-up and day as it’ll only ever happen once.”

Most importantly, you need to make sure you’ve signed up for Graduation no later than 31 May – this is the booking deadline to confirm your attendance by. This is available via a link sent to your student email too.

Strike a pose!

You’ve got to look the part for an event like Graduation.

Gown hire with Marston Events closes on 7 July, which you can hire via their website, as well as photography offers and packages. as long as they can provide Here’s a full price breakdown of other things you might pay for:

Guest tickets – these are £25 each and include entry to the ceremony, entry to the post-ceremony Beach Marquee Reception with a glass of champagne, and a commemorative Graduate Programme.

Cap and gown – if you’re an undergraduate or postgraduate student, gown hire from Marston Events costs £24, while PhD gowns cost £32. You can source alternative suppliers as long as they offer the same AUB colours.

Photography – there are some great packages with Marston Events – log in and fill out the form to see what’s on offer.

Not sure what to wear under your gown? Amy recommends some careful planning in advance for this too:

“I started looking in advance for my graduation outfit. It’s so hard to pick, and no dress seems like the perfect one so I would recommend looking a few months in advance, especially if you’re buying it online. I brought bobby pins with me to fix my graduation cap in place! Lastly, don’t worry, you won’t fall over – everyone thinks that – but it’s always a good idea to ‘break your heels in’ before the event. I’d see my housemates wearing sweatpants and their graduation heels around the house so they could get used to walking in them!”

Once you’ve found your fit, pre-booked and hired everything you need, it’s time for the main event.

The big day

Graduation starts as soon as you’re on site. On arrival, you’ll be directed into the gowning room where you’ll be gowned if you’ve hired from Marston Events – otherwise, feel free to arrive pre-gowned. This is a great chance to meet up with friends and classmates beforehand, as well as receiving your name card, as Naomi tells us:

“You'll be issued a card with your name that will be read out when crossing stage and will also have your allocated seat number on – please keep this safe, you'll need to present it to the name announcer when your time comes to walk stage!

“Once you've taken your seats and the ceremony starts, remember to relax. We'll have a team of ushers that will let you know when you need to stand and line up to cross the stage – just follow staff instruction and we'll guide you through what you need to do.”

Here’s how it’ll go:

  1. Hand your name card over to the announcer.
  2. They’ll announce your name – start to cross the stage. Remember to walk slowly and enjoy your moment in the spotlight. You've worked hard for this, so enjoy it!
  3. Shake hands with the Chancellor, who’ll be standing centre-stage.
  4. Continue to walk across and your certificate will be given to you after you've left the stage, before you’re directed back into a free seat.

We'll also be capturing your special moment via a professionally made video clip, which you can redeem after graduation through AUB&, so be sure to check afterwards to find it.

“There’s such an amazing buzz in the gowning room with mixed emotions!" Paris explains. "I loved this part of the day, as we were able to hang out with friends before the ceremony, take pictures and practise our stage walk. The ceremony felt extremely organised, which helped the nerves. I loved the pre-recorded message from staff around the University – it was an amazing tribute and made me a bit emotional.”

Amy adds, “It’s the waiting in anticipation and excitement – cheering on your friends from other courses way too loudly. Then when your time comes to get up it’s a bit intimidating, as you’re trying desperately not to fall over while you reach to shake someone’s hand, but it’s over so quickly and then you can relax. It was good fun.”

There’s no party without an afterparty

The ceremony may be over, but there’s still plenty to do after you’ve got your official certificate.

After the ceremony, you’ll be able to gather with your family and friends outside the Pavilion (this is a great photo opportunity) and make your way down to the Beach Marquee. This is a ticketed venue for you and anyone holding guest tickets to enjoy yourselves with plenty of good stuff, like graduation souvenirs from Campus Clothing, live music and a glass of bubbly. Paris and Amy have their own memories and experiences to share:

"A key memory was that one of my housemates’ mums made us all a personalised graduation champagne flute with our names on and a little hat, which was such a sweet gesture," says Amy. "It still sits in my room now. We took them there and had a bottle of champagne outside the marquee to celebrate. Another key moment was one of my housemates taking pictures dressed up in her gown next to two of the lifeguards that were on duty!”

“There’s something so nice about it being at the beach, in proper AUB style," adds Paris. "I’d recommend drinking a glass of champagne, and relax, because the hard part’s over now! You should get some pictures with friends on the beach, throwing your hats in the air.”

There are plenty of chances to make some great memories after you’ve earned your certificate. If you’re looking for formal photography, you can visit the photography studios at Pavilion Dance South West – we’d recommend pre-booking this, but you can decide on the day too.

One last thing

We hope you have a great time on graduation day and truly enjoy yourself. After you’ve celebrated in town or at the marquee, make sure you return your gown if you’ve hired it, and be sure to check out your personalised clip on AUB&.

Naomi, Paris and Amy all have some final advice to share if you’re still on the fence about attending graduation:

“We're there to support you throughout the entire process," says Naomi. "Our emails will contain all the information you need to make your decision about attending, speak to friends and family and visit – why not review our archive of photos and videos from previous years! We want you to feel confident and excited about graduation. No question is too small, so if you have one that isn't answered on our website or in our emails, don't hesitate to contact us.”

Paris says, “Just go for it, because in how ever many years’ time when you look back, you’ll be grateful for the memories. If you do go, remember to chill out and enjoy the day, because it goes so quickly.”

And Amy says, “It was good fun to mingle with everyone and meeting friends’ parents. I’d recommend trying to take lots of pictures with everyone, your lecturers too, and definitely don’t forget to get your free drink!”

Our 2024 Graduation ceremonies will take place on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 July at the Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth. For more information, check out our graduation pages.

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