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The Client

The University of Law is the largest law school in the UK offering law degrees, specialist legal training and continuing professional development to barristers and solicitors.

The University required graduation services for four sets of ceremonies from April 2022 until November 2022, totalling nine days of ceremonies in this period for almost 7,500 students and 800 academic staff.

These ceremonies took place at a single location (the Barbican) which due to its prime location was only accessible from 6:00am on the day of the ceremonies. As students needed to collect gowns from 8:00am, a good co-ordinated approach was required and set up needed to take place within just 2 hours.

Key Issues

UoL had experienced issues with previously incumbent suppliers such as lack of electronic ticketing or seat allocation, with no logging of attendees (no scanning of tickets on entry), long queue times for students and a poor student experience overall which resulted in poor presentation of gowns for collection, slow reporting, and no commitment to produce new gown stock if it was needed and no new officer’s robes offered.

Proposed Solutions

The proposed solution needed to start with a periodically updated and well-maintained secure booking system made available to students and staff, both for gown and photography booking, and purchasing of memorabilia, as well as for administration purposes for university staff to run reports for all aspects of service delivery (ticketing, gowns, photography etc).

We also proposed offering e-ticketing solutions so that we could provide a seating plan and generate seat numbers for tickets.

All of this was proposed to be supported by customer service provision available via e-mail, Livechat and telephone Monday to Friday 08:30am – 5:30pm.

We proposed to provide high quality garments on the day of the event, as well as audit of current gowns and production of new ones, with a refresh to the design of these. Executive gowns were also required as well as complimentary academic dress for staff from a range of institutions.

Results

Supported by our booking system, we were able to offer clear instructions for students and staff in relation to gown sizes, including information on how to take accurate measurements. All payments made for tickets, gown hire, and purchase were offered on the website via secure payments with all popular card merchants.

This meant that the day of the graduations could run as smoothly as possible, providing a surplus of gowns for those booking on the day, and providing assistance in robing to staff and VIPs, posting a member of the team before a student crosses the stage to ensure presentability.

In order to ensure that the space was utilised effectively, we modelled a digital seating plan to replicate the available space at the Barbican, this included various layouts to meet different ceremony requirements for such as VIPs, accessibility, house seats and reserved seating areas.

This seating was to be accessed with clear instructions on tickets as well as capacity limiting functionality used in the booking system to prevent over subscription of ceremonies.

We were also able to utilise our QR code scanning application which allowed us to check graduates and guests as they arrived with their e-tickets, a feature sorely missed from the University’s previous supplier. We actually observed that the original ceremonies became fully booked and students began to fill the waiting list. As our system is pre-populated, we were then able to re-open the system to only those that were on the waiting list. This gatekeeping was a feature that the University of Law found extremely useful.

In terms of staff, we also created a suite of officer’s robes to the University, and over 200 new garments were created for the University following audit of existing stock, all made carbon neutral through our use of Envirothread.

To ensure the smooth running of the event, we provided 25 gowning team members for the larger ceremonies to ensure queuing times were kept to a minimum.

Most of the ceremonies had 375 graduates each, however, the November ceremonies were much larger with over 500 per ceremony, which was the biggest that the venue had ever housed for a University. However we were ultimately able to provide over 55 members of Graduation Attire staff to cope with the size of the event.

We were even told by the venue themselves, who host many Graduation Events organised by other organisations, that we were their preferred service supplier. A wonderful compliment and testament to our dedication to excellent customer service.

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