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About Graduation at Otago
Each year, around 3000 Otago students receive degrees and diplomas at one of ten graduation ceremonies, eight held in Dunedin and two in Invercargill.
Your graduation marks your admission to permanent membership of the University. The University aims to make this a special day for you, your family and friends, and offers you the opportunity to revisit your day in the following pages.
For information on upcoming graduations please visit the University of Otago Graduations page.
The Graduation Ceremony at the University of Otago
The essential structure of graduation ceremonies at the University of Otago took its present form in the 1920s. Elements of Māori ceremonial were introduced in 1995.
Members of the Council and staff of the University, preceded by the President of the Students' Association carrying the University Mace, enter in formal procession and take their places on the stage. The Chancellor and a representative of the Tangata Whenua (local Māori people) greet the graduands and other members and friends of the University, and the National Anthem is sung, in both Māori and English, as an affirmation of the role of the University in the life of the nation.
Candidates for degrees and diplomas are presented by the Public Orator (in the case of honorary degrees); the Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellors and Deans, to the Chancellor, who formally 'caps' those who are receiving degrees and congratulates those who are to receive diplomas. Envelopes containing diplomas are presented by the Secretary to the Council and Registrar.
A Graduation Address is delivered by a senior member of the University or a distinguished visitor, the Chancellor formally welcomes the new graduates to permanent membership of the University, and proceedings conclude with the medieval Latin academic anthem Gaudeamus.
Someone who has completed the requirements of their qualification, but has not yet graduated, is termed a "graduand". After graduation, you become a "graduate" of the University.
The academic regalia worn by most of the participants in the ceremony is descended from the daily dress of students and teachers of universities in the Middle Ages.
The black gowns worn by most Otago graduates are of the same design as those worn by Bachelor of Arts or Master of Arts graduates of the University of Cambridge. The hood worn around the shoulders is no longer a practical garment but indicates the wearer's degree: the colour of the lining of the hood shows the discipline of the degree; the hood for an ordinary Bachelor's degree is bordered with white fur, the hood for an Honours degree with white corded ribbon, and that for a Master's degree has either no border or a border of coloured ribbon. Otago doctoral graduates wear gowns of maroon (Doctor of Philosophy) or scarlet (all other doctors), colours which were anciently reserved for peers, judges, and other high officials. Doctors' hoods are made wholly of coloured silk. Most graduates wear black trenchers ('mortarboards') but doctoral graduates wear velvet caps as worn by doctors of Scottish universities. Distinctive robes are also prescribed for senior officers of the University and members of the University Council.
There is no uniformity amongst universities in the style of academic gown or headgear or colours used, and the academic dress of American and European universities is markedly different from that of most Commonwealth universities, so there is rich variety in the regalia worn by members of the staff.
- Doctor of Philosophy - ruby red
- Higher Doctorates - cardinal red
- Applied Science - salvia blue
- Arts - rose pink
- Biomedical Science - fuchsia
- Commerce - tangerine
- Consumer and Applied Sciences - straw gold
- Dental Technology - parma violet
- Dentistry - spectrum violet
- Divinity - violet grey
- Education - coral
- Health Sciences - magenta
- Laws - powder blue
- Māori Traditional Arts - fawn
- Medical Laboratory Science - petunia
- Medical Science - crocus mauve
- Medicine and Surgery - lilac
- Music - white
- Pharmacy - spectrum green
- Physical Education - mistletoe
- Physiotherapy - peacock green
- Science - lido blue
- Surveying - reseda
- Theology - kingfisher blue
- Teaching - flame
- Tourism - purple brown