A PETITION is urging a university to give students a “real graduation” after it cancelled plans in favour of a virtual ceremony.

Almost 2,000 people have signed a petition calling on the University of Brighton to reverse its decision to cancel a physical graduation ceremony in February 2021.

Students were supposed to graduate in the summer but the impact of the coronavirus pandemic postponed plans until 2021.

The petition, created by Laura Donkin, claims students received an email to tell them that the ceremony had been cancelled and would be replaced instead by “virtual celebrations”.

She said on the petition: “Attending a virtual ceremony, most likely on Zoom, does not even come close to matching the atmosphere and excitement of a day out in Brighton, wearing our cap and gown and having pictures taken with proud parents and our course mates too.

“The class of 2020 has had perhaps one of the hardest final terms ever as we have battled through sudden changes to learning, exams and for most upheaval in regards to living situations as the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the country.

“Throughout all of this, the one thought that has helped me, and I’m sure many others, get through it all was the thought of getting to walk across the graduation stage and hear my friends and family clapping.”

As part of the virtual graduation, the events will be recorded and made available online afterwards to share with families, supporters and friends.

According to the university, invitations to attend the events will be sent out over the course of the next few weeks.

A spokesman for the university said: “The university took this decision with huge reluctance and we recognise how disappointing it is to all those concerned.

“Each of our graduation ceremonies typically bring together around 1,500 attendees from around the world.

“The rapidly-changing Covid-19 restrictions which are currently in place across the United Kingdom and internationally make the holding of large-scale indoor events impossible.

“Our virtual celebrations will allow graduates to celebrate their success safely.”