Sandra's Guide to Degree Ceremonies

Sandra Wearden and her book

Dr Sandra Wearden, Associate Member of the Centre for Higher Education Research and Evaluation at Lancaster University, has published A Guide to Degree Ceremonies, the first-ever guide book of its kind covering UK higher education institutions.

“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,” said Dr Wearden.

She added: “My guide, written in an accessible style with illustrations by Lancaster artist, John Elles, is an informative collectible souvenir for UK and international students and their parents.”

Students and their families can meet Dr Wearden at the marquee on Lancaster Square, Lancaster University, 16 – 19 July inclusive, where they can also buy a copy of the guide.

“The graduation ceremony has a very special status: it’s the moment when the graduating student is awarded with their degree and becomes a lifelong 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, to provide institutions with research and consultancy services for their own degree ceremonies. Her guide is the first product released by the business.

“Lancaster University aims to see research outcomes make a real impact in society,” said Dr Wearden, who completed her PhD in Educational Research at the university in 2017. “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 and has worked as a diplomat and management consultant, is only the third person in 800 years to have studied this subject area at doctoral level. She is now a world-class expert on degree ceremonies and academic dress and added: “There is a huge passion for pageantry in this country and abroad, as we’ve seen through the global interest in recent royal weddings. That’s only likely to increase.” 

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