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May 20, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Celebrations in Varying Degrees

Although Victoria had its biggest graduation last week, with more than 2100 students in caps and gowns, a recent report shows that over a third of all students are still not finishing their degrees.

Provisional data in the 2012 Annual Report released by Victoria University shows that only 66.6 per cent of all students have successfully completed their degrees, while only 58.2 per cent of Māori and 52.7 per cent of Pasifika students have ticked the graduated box.

But in the last year, there has been a push from the Government to improve student outcomes.

At the beginning of 2012, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Steven Joyce announced that the Government would contribute $115 million annually to Student Achievement Component funding (SAC) to tertiary institutions for the direct cost of teaching and learning.

However, tertiary institutions’ access to funding relies on their levels of student performance; for example, the number of students who successfully complete courses and EFTS units.

VUWSA President Rory McCourt acknowledged that there was room for improvement, but said the University had increased its rates of study completion over the last few years and was performing better than other institutions around the country. McCourt said the students’ association is “really proud” of the continual increases in Victoria’s completion rates, especially among Māori and Pasifika students.

“There’s always more we can do to lift the numbers of students who make it through, like building strong support services and the University embracing feedback from our 700-plus Class Reps,” he said.

Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh was also celebrating the outgoing graduates’ success, saying that graduation was a time to “celebrate the culmination of months, or years, of study, dedication and effort.”

“With their diverse range of skills and attributes, our graduates make a valuable contribution to New Zealand’s economy and society, and I wish them every success for their future endeavours,” he said.

Despite poor achievement rates, most students who graduated enjoyed the satisfaction of graduating last week.

Five ceremonies were held at the Michael Fowler Centre last week along with two traditional street parades of staff and graduands who walked from Lambton Quay to Civic Square where they were given the thumbs-up by Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

The graduation saw 35 PhDs along with 2415 degrees, diplomas and certificates awarded.

For new graduate and Weir House Assistant Head of Hall Rayleen Hirini, graduation was the end of seven years of juggling study, work and motherhood. Seven years ago, Rayleen, 45, had a meeting with the Kaiwaowao (Māori Liasion Officer) who encouraged her in her pursuit to study the Māori language and a Bachelor of Arts in Māori Resource Management.

“It took me seven years’ part-time study while working, and the last four years have been working full-time as Night Manager at Weir House while continuing to study.”

Rayleen plans to continue working at Weir House and then use her degree when she is ready.

Another graduate, 22, who has completed his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Media Studies, said the graduation process was great.

“But the University could offer more than one free drink, I guess.”

The next graduation ceremony will be held in December.


Know Ya Academicals

Academic dress generally includes a gown with a separate hood, and usually a square academic cap, tam, or bonnet.

Academic hoods originated in the Middle Ages when leaders sat close to fires, while the plebs sat further away and wore fur. Hence, hoods for undergraduate degrees have fur, while postgraduate degrees have no fur.

As for the crème de la crème of robes, a Doctoral graduate wears the same as a graduate receiving a Masters, except the gown is completely silk, either black or scarlet, with the option to wear a cloth gown.

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