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UCU-USSU joint statement on Sussex summer graduation 2023

Following feedback from students, representatives from the Students’ Union and Sussex UCU have met several times this week to discuss plans for graduation. We have collectively listened to, and responded to student and UCU members’ concerns around any potential disruption to graduation ceremonies in the context of the ongoing marking and assessment boycott. UCU (with support from the Students’ Union) have decided to cancel all plans of holding a demonstration, or solidarity stall, at graduation. Instead, we would like to jointly invite students to celebrate their achievements with us at our alternative graduation party, details of which will be publicised shortly.

For staff who feel unable to attend graduation, we invite you to come and meet students to celebrate their great achievements, and thank them for their solidarity in our industrial dispute. We would like, at this event, to speak to students about how they can challenge, and respond to, the ongoing circumstances.

We understand graduation is a day for students, for their celebration and their voice, and we are seeking to respect this. It is vital however that we also recognise that this is not an ordinary graduation and the University has sold out our students, giving them ‘ordinary degrees’ or predicted classifications in lieu of the qualifications students need to study, work, and live. It would be irresponsible of us to let this go unrecognised. Many lecturers cannot in good conscience attend these graduation ceremonies, and this feeling is shared by some of the Students’ Union Full Time Officer team, who are traditionally invited to participate in the ceremony. They would still like to celebrate their students’ achievements outside of the traditional ceremonial setting, and feel the plan for an alternative graduation party is more appropriate.

Our lecturers and all staff are incredibly proud of this cohort of students. We are also immensely grateful for the long history of support and solidarity our students have shown us at Sussex. Together we will overcome the struggles we all face.

We wish every student the brightest future possible and hope you’ll join us on our alternative graduation party to share the joy of this day.

Love and solidarity,

Sussex UCU and The University of Sussex Students’ Union.


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