Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: No more unending speeches from a string of guests on convocation day or graduation day, as it must now be called in colleges. No more garlands or bouquets to chief guests. No cultural programmes to follow the ceremony.

In an attempt to “restore the sanctity” of the event, the Tamil Nadu State Council for Higher Education has come out with a set of rules for conducting convocations and graduation ceremonies in all universities and colleges.

“In recent years, convocations have become a political meeting or cultural event…They have lost the seriousness and sanctity,” said council vice-chairman A. Ramasamy, releasing the handbook of rules at a press conference on Monday.

The graduation day should be held within 15 days after the receipt of degrees from the university. Only university rank-holders and university prize winners in academic disciplines can receive their honours on the graduation day. Universities have been told to get permission from the Minister for Higher Education before conferring honorary degrees on eminent persons.

The rules specify the persons and order of the academic procession that must start the event—principal, controller of examinations, heads of departments, secretary of the educational trust, and finally the chief guest. These are the only people who will be allowed on stage in the graduation hall. Uniform colours and designs for the academic robes have been prescribed for all colleges. The procession will be accompanied by specified music, for which a CD will be provided to all colleges. The guard of honour by NCC cadets should be given only to the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and State and Central Ministers.

The ceremony must open with a recorded rendition of ‘Tamil Thai Vazhthu’ and end with the National Anthem. “We have seen some colleges including religious songs for the invocation instead of ‘Tamil Thai Vazhthu.’ That must end,” Dr. Ramasamy said.

On stage, all chairs must be of uniform size and colour. The presentation of garlands, bouquets, gifts and mementoes has been banned. The backdrop should carry only the name and emblem of the college and affiliating university, besides the date of the graduation day.

A minute-to-minute programme has been included in the guidelines, with 7-10 minutes allowed for the principal’s report and 17-20 minutes for the chief guest’s address. Texts have been provided for the opening and closing of the event, presentation of candidates and administration of the pledge. No comperes will be allowed.