Watch our graduations online

Published: 27 June 2007

The University of Glasgow's graduations begin today, June 28, and are available to watch online

The University of Glasgow's graduations begin today, June 28, and are available to watch online.

Watch live streaming of the graduations ceremonies.

The Principal's Charge to the Graduates, 2007

I wonder what, as new graduates, you are feeling right now.

Happy? I hope so. Perhaps, a sense of satisfaction? Surely. A hint of hope, not least, that I won’t go on for too long: entirely understandable.

Relief – that you reached today, and that you have survived the ordeal - you negotiated the steps and ramp, shook hands, got your hood, collected your parchment: all in the right order and all without tripping or slipping. We’ve all breathed that particular sigh once safely back in our seat.

And maybe for some, as you look further ahead, you have a sense of apprehension. For one thing is for sure: this is a pivotal moment in your lives; a point of transition.

Today marks something completed. Whatever else you go on to do, no one can take this day away from you. You’ve earned it, the crowning moment for you after all your hard work and study, all your toil and trouble. Well done!

And in finishing this chapter in your lives, you’ve achieved something else. You’ve repaid the faith of your family and friends, your teachers and supervisors, all those people who have invested in you and supported you. Many of them will be here today. This marks the end of a journey for them too.

Throughout your studies they have sat through your exams, waited for your results, worried about the pressures you are under. They have applauded your achievements today. This might be a good time for you to say thank you to them publicly, for travelling this journey with you.

But this is a transition. You are on the brink of launching out to something new; a new career, maybe further study, perhaps time out.

What is important is that you are taking with you your degree.

This should not be underestimated. What you hold in your hands may be a piece of paper/parchment but what it represents, the knowledge gained, the skills developed will open doors for you, it will make a difference.


Firstly, it matters that your degree is conferred by a great University striving to be even better: that gives your degree quality, and a quality that is recognised beyond these four walls.

Secondly, each of you has learnt much and gained new knowledge in specific subject areas, whether it be in Business and Management, Economic and Social History, Economics, Philosophy, Psychology, Politics, Public Policy, or Sociology.

And thirdly, you have gained generic intellectual skills which will enable you to think critically and flexibly. You are now better equipped to evaluate evidence, assess arguments, get to the nub of an issue, and then communicate what you find to others.

These three elements are in demand out there in the world. But don’t be fooled. I’m not saying that your work is over, all effort is done, and that you can coast complacently along.

You see, things can never be the same again. Because you are now a graduate, you have raised the bar; having achieved more, more is expected of you. You have raised people’s expectations of what you are made of, what you can do, what it is you have to give. That’s a challenge. And it demands a response.

On 20 June we celebrated Commemoration Day, and conferred honorary degrees. One of the Graduates, Olivia Giles in speaking on behalf of her fellow honorary graduates gave her response to the same challenge.

She said :‘We owe it to ourselves and the world we live in to be and do the best we can’ and quoted from a poem written by Marianne Williamson and used by Nelson Mandela which says: ‘Your playing small doesn’t serve the world’.

That was her response. Here then is my question to you: as you go forward, do you want to play it small? I know you’ve got something to give, a lot to offer so what’s your vision for the future and the part you intend to play in it?

Put this question alongside an interesting aphorism which says: ‘We do not inherit the earth from our parents, but borrow it from our children’ then you will see the challenge.

To some extent the ball is in your court. And expectations are high. And this is part of the transition you are making. You are moving from environments that shaped and influenced you, into worlds that you will be expected to influence and fashion for others and the generations coming behind you.

It is then a matter of what part you want to play, how big you want to play it – because as I say, I know, you have much to offer. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t.

It’s inspiring to remember some of those who have sat where you are sitting thinking the same thoughts you are thinking - people like Donald Dewar, Menzies Campbell, A J Cronin, Janice Galloway, William McIlvanney, Christopher Brookmyre, Helen MacInnes and many more.

They went forward and made a decision to play it big, to go for it and maximise their talents. So this was a beginning for them, and it can be for you.

In taking up your roles and responsibilities in society, there is something you do not leave behind: this University. As alumni, you have the opportunity to remain in touch through GU world through the various alumni groups and activities. On one level of course this is about social events, keeping acquaintances alive. And that’s good and important.

But there is something more to it than that. I hope that you will forever look back to your days here and your ongoing association with this University and gain inspiration from all that it stands for, for the bar it set for you, for its continual striving for knowledge and understanding, for the part it will play in the lives of those who follow.

In concluding let me return to the beginning! Whatever mix of feelings you have, I really do hope you are feeling excited!

You should, because in so many ways, the world really is your oyster. May I congratulate you once again for what you have achieved, encourage you to go forward from here, striving to achieve yet more, but with words, borrowed from another charge singing in your ears: ‘Remember that we make a living by what we get. But we make a life by what we give.’

  • 11am, June 28 - Law, Business and Social Sciences
  • 4pm, June 28 - Arts/Law Business and Social Sciences
  • 11am, June 29 - Law Business and Social Sciences
  • 4pm, June 29 - Arts/Education
  • 11am, June 30 - Physical Sciences/Arts/Law Business and Social Sciences/Veterinary Medicine
  • 11am, July 3 - Biomedical and Life Sciences/Medicine
  • 4pm, July 3 - Information and Mathematical Sciences/Biomedical and Life Sciences
  • 11am, July 4 - Medicine
  • 4pm, July 4 - Arts
  • 11am, July 5 - Engineering

Ray McHugh (

First published: 27 June 2007

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