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23rd May 2016

University Bans ‘Risky’ Mortarboard Throwing

Graduates are advised to have the hats digitally added to photos after a student was taken to A&E with a serious face injury.

The tradition of throwing mortarboards into the air after graduation has reportedly been banned by a university on health and safety grounds.

The University of East Anglia said the decision was taken after a number of graduates were injured by falling hats, including one who was taken to A&E after being cut on their face, according to a statement published by student newspaper The Tab.

Instead, students have been advised mortarboards could be added digitally to photographs after the event – for a charge of £8.

Law students at the university were sent instructions suggesting they could “mime” the throwing action.

Penguin Photography told them: “As well as being safer, this will have the added advantage that even more of the students’ faces will be seen in this photograph.”

Louisa Baldwin, the Law Society president at UAE, told The Tab: “If I’ve paid £45 to hire a bit of cloth and card for the day I should be able to chuck my hat in the air.”

And the students’ union postgraduate education officer, Liam McCafferty, told Sky News it was “outrageous” that Penguin Photography wanted to charge students to add the hats digitally.

“We’re glad the university is taking concerns about health and safety seriously considering that last year a student was seriously injured,” he said.

“The real scandal is the fact the company is charging £8 extra to Photoshop the hats in, which I think is outrageous. They’re trying to make a quick buck off that and it’s not acceptable.”

The university told the student newspaper that the throwing of hats posed an “unacceptable risk”.

It said: “The decision to not have the traditional ‘hat throwing’ photo opportunity for all students this year follows a number of injuries over recent years to graduates hurt by falling mortarboards.

“This is an unacceptable risk and we want to ensure no student’s graduation day is ruined by the potential for avoidable injury.”

The university said the ban had been agreed by academic dress suppliers which often received “damaged mortarboards” after graduations.

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