HELBUS’ MBA students visited the University of Northampton’s graduation ceremony

13.03.2020 | | HELBUS

Written by Taru Ellilä

With great determination and slight fear of falling on my face in front of hundreds of people, I walked across the stage once my name had been called. I made my way to the Vice Chancellor on stage to shake his hand and offer a smiling “thank you” as he congratulated me and proceeded to the end of the stage to receive a paper. I had made it. From somewhere, I heard some encouraging yelling from the audience. Apparently, this was “Hyvä Taru” from family and a fellow HELBUS student who also attended the ceremony.

The campus

The day had started at the new campus, at the Creative Hub. We had heard great things about the new £330 million campus, which is called ‘Waterside’. The name is fitting, as it sits right by a river. From the building, we could see a park on the other side of the river, with swans swimming about, and a flock of riverboats waiting to be taken out for a spin. This form of travel could almost be the national leisure activity of UK. The university buildings were nice and fitting for their purpose. The Creative Hub was formed of common areas, and classrooms for teaching, and were surrounded by student halls for first-year undergrads. At the Creative Hub, we registered and got into our gowns and hats, and made our way to the partner schools’ table, where we met some of the enthusiastic MBA personnel. After receiving a gift bag with some University of Northampton branded souvenirs and taking a few pictures, we headed for the ceremony.

The walk from the campus was interesting, as the UK was just hit by the ‘Dennis’ storm, which we rushed to meet again in Finland after the weekend. We were warned not to wear the hats until reaching the theatre, because some had already flown into the river. We walked past the park through a road with beautiful old trees before we were hit by the city and its mixture of architectures built in eras ranging from the early 19th century to the 1980’s. This type of incompatible combination of construction was constant throughout the town, with little maintenance done since they were built. This style (or lack of) could very well be the symbol of UK, obvious for anyone who has visited the UK and moved past the touristy streets of London. We held on to our belongings and covered ourselves from the strong wind, lucky not to be hit by rain.

The ceremony

The ceremony was a combination of old English traditions and a modern venue. This is quite common in universities in the UK, unless the university is old itself. The stage was surrounded by many layers of seating with multiple boxes rising high onto the walls. The graduates were seated on the main floor and waited patiently for the whole Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology to pass, after which it was the turn for Faculty of Business and Law. Out of our faculty, the MBA’s clearly outnumbered the others, with over 150 people decorated with blue and gold hoods.

These hoods were part of the ensemble of a gown, hood and hat. A borrowed description of the MBA attire from Northampton.ac.uk/graduation shows the linking to old British universities:

  • Black gown in Manchester University style
  • Black mortarboard with black tassel
  • Hood: Full shape Cambridge University type black outer, lined blue and faced inside cowl edge with gold university embossed silk

The feeling of old traditions became even more noticeable once the colourfully dressed university heads came on stage, lead by someone holding a sceptre and placing it in the front of the stage ceremoniously. After the sceptre had found its rightful place, they all sat down in reserved seating on multiple levels of the stage where they stayed to watch the ceremony or come down to perform their parts of the ceremony.

The university

The ceremony included speeches and an honorary degree being passed on to someone. It proceeded nicely and lasted for a little over an hour.

From the speeches, I found out some interesting facts about Northampton. As Northampton is located more or less between Cambridge and Oxford, back in 13th century Henry III almost founded a third university to Northampton to offer an alternative place to study for Oxbridge students during the civil unrest. The plan did not come to realisation, because it was feared that a third university would dilute the quality of the two universities. University status returned to Northampton only in 2005 after a history of uniting colleges of arts, nursing and technology to eventually create University College Northampton, which became University of Northampton.

For anyone thinking about whether to attend the ceremonies in Northampton, I would only say one thing: Going there acts as the realisation and conclusion to the MBA journey. There is something very special about the atmosphere and unfortunately, my words don’t do it justice. It is worth experiencing in person.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *