The MFin class of 2009-10 graduated last Saturday. I need to explain what this means.
In Cambridge, you aren’t actually allowed to use the title MFin (or whatever degree you’ve got) unless you graduate, either in person or in absentia. If, as most choose, you do it in person you must go through a fairly short but quite elaborate ceremony in the University Senate House, where a senior Professor will say something in Latin, you bow and then get your degree certificate. You don’t actually say anything yourself but you must wear exactly the right clothes, including a hood of the colour of your degree (it’s a sort of sage green for the MFin). If your clothes aren’t right you’ll be sent away.
You graduate by college, not by degree. The best way to think of this is that the university is a sort of matrix, with every student having a faculty association (vertical) and also a college affiliation (horizontal). On Saturday morning the MFin graduands met at Judge Business School for an official photo, with me. They then dispersed to their colleges and graduated at various times of the day, before reconvening (with their guests) for the MFin graduation dinner and party at the beautiful Madingley Hall, just outside Cambridge.
Graduation takes place in the May after the course itself finishes because the final official examiners’ meeting can’t be done until October or November. Until that point someone hasn’t officially passed, though we can provide letters for employers or visas etc which are accepted as evidence of successful completion. Nobody wants to graduate in the middle of winter so we graduate the MBA, EMBA and MFin in May, which is typically a nice time of year, though you can never be certain in the UK.
As Cambridge is quite full of tourists even in May, the graduands are very much photographed as they walk in formation to the Senate House. For tourists this is great, just what they were hoping to see when they visit Cambridge. For the graduands, they just have to put up with the paparazzi and accept that they are, for a while, celebrities. I think most quite enjoy it.