Get involved with our summer graduation ceremonies

The summer graduation ceremonies will be taking place over two weeks from 17-28 July.

Image of graduating students outside the Great Hall building at the University of Leeds

Graduation is a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our students and we are calling on our staff community to help create a wonderful and memorable experience. 

We are looking for volunteers to carry out a number of roles to support the smooth running of the ceremonies and all colleagues are invited to help. No previous experience is needed and full training will be provided. 

Details of the various roles, how to sign up, along with the dates and times available, can all be found here. The timings listed provide an indication of when staff would need to be available but those who sign up will be contacted with further details along with information about the training sessions.

The deadline for signing up is Friday 16 June. 

Thank you in advance to all our staff for their support. If you have any questions, get in touch with the graduation team at

Roles available 

Here are the different roles available for staff to choose from and a breakdown of the responsibilities involved: 

  • Ceremony Officer 
    • Ensuring the smooth running of the ceremonies   
    • First point of contact for issues on the day   
    • Supervising marshals   
    • Dealing with late or not registered students  
  • Chief Marshal 
    • Delivering announcement at the start of the ceremony   
    • Leading the procession to and from the Hall   
    • Passing documents to the Presiding Officer   
  • Key Marshal 
    • Checking graduands into the Hall   
    • Checking absentees   
    • Liaising with presenters   
    • Guiding graduands from their seats to the stage/platform   
  • Ticket Desk Supervisor 
    • Ensuring ticket desk is open at 7.45am (if AM shift)   
    • First point of contact for any student issues    
    • Supervising temporary staff on the ticket desk  

If staff are interested in supporting a specific school’s graduation, the full schedule of graduation ceremonies can be found here

Stories from past volunteers

We caught up with Chayley Davies, Continuous Improvement Specialist from the Transformation Office, and Ali Jackson, Student Funding Manager from the Student Education Service, who have given their time to support graduation in the past.

What was your overall experience being involved in graduation ceremonies?

Chayley: I have been involved in graduation ceremonies for eighteen years and it really is a wonderful event to work at. Just seeing the graduands and their families and friends celebrating their achievements alone make it worthwhile. It is an event where you get to work with so many different teams and staff across the University who all together make the events as welcoming and successful as they can be. It has expanded my network and knowledge of other services greatly and it really is an opportunity to enhance skills such as communication and people skills.

Ali: I’ve always found the ceremonies to be joyful and also emotional. After all of the hard work to be able to share in a student’s moment of celebration is wonderful.

Do you have any favourite stories or memories that really stand out to you?

Chayley: My first ceremony experience stands out as I was working at the Centenary Celebratory Ceremonies in 2004 where I was a Marshall. Honorary Degrees were conferred upon Sir Ian McKellan, Jack Charlton and Sir Ken Morrison – Sir Ian recited a monologue from Macbeth on the stage in the Great Hall. That was an experience I will never forget. 

My favourite memories are in what is called the Green Room behind the stage where all the preparation takes place and the staff and volunteers meet. It is there where I have met new people and had the opportunity to work with other people many many times over. It is hectic with a real buzz of activity at times then there is a quiet lull as each ceremony starts and we prep for the next one. It is here that staff are supported, students come if they are late or need assistance. It is the hub of the whole thing. A places to have five minutes with a biscuit and a brew before, after or during your shift.

Animals are also a stand out – we have had assistance dogs in tuxedos, a cat in a bag and a pigeon in the Great Hall causing mayhem on one of the days.

Ali: I always find that when I recognise the name of a student I have worked with, and particularly if they have had to overcome struggles, I feel an immense sense of shared pride (quietly hidden) when I see them put that first foot on the stairs to rise and receive the certificate that validates all of their tremendous effort. I have to confess to having teary eyes on more than one occasion, and the broadest smile.

What would you say to colleagues who were thinking of volunteering but who were still a bit unsure?

Chayley: You are always supported on the day, experienced staff are there to talk you through your roles and just assist with nerves. You are never working alone and the graduation team will go out of their way to ensure you feel ready. The ceremonies have so many teams to support the event so any issues or worries are dealt with swiftly and professionally. There is a nurse, security staff and facilities assistants present alongside the graduation team all working together to support volunteers, graduands and families. Everyone has that first shift experience which is nerve-racking for many but you will be well trained, well supported and always be working with others.

Ali: Taking part in the ceremonies allows you to step away from your normal role, meet other colleagues and share a wonderful occasion with our students and staff. The training is excellent and everyone works as a team, so you will be supported and guided through the process. I would definitely say ‘give it a go’. 

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