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Mortarboard madness? UEA stops students from throwing hats in graduation tradition

It's either health and safety gone mad or an example of an educational establishment looking after its students responsibly.

Ahead of the graduation season, when students celebrate the awarding of their degrees in the time honoured fashion by throwing their mortar boards into the air, the University of East Anglia has banned the practice.

The UEA says hurling the pointed hats upwards is causing injury.

Click below to watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Natalie Gray.

University says mortarboard ban is for large groups of students

Mortarboards from 'Graduatrion Attire Ltd' Credit: ITV News Anglia

The University of East Anglia which has been criticised by the Health and Safety Executive for stopping its students this year from throwing mortarboards into the air at their graduation ceremonies, says it is only for large groups of students.

The HSE had said the ban was 'over-the-top' and that the chance of being injured by the throwing of mortarboards was 'incredibly small'.

Now the UEA says that small individual groups can go away and photograph themselves throwing the traditional hats, but is 'discouraging' very large groups from carrying out the tradition.

"We're not banning anything, we have a large photograph of about 250 students in their gowns and the last few years we've had a few nasty accidents which has rather spoilt the day for some students and so it's an avoidable accident, so we are discouraging the throwing of hats in the big orchestrated photograph, but people can take their own photographs around the campus if they wish."

– Prof Neil Ward, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of East Anglia

Watch more reaction from the UEA's Neil Ward who is reacting to criticism from the HSE.

The Managing Director of 'Graduation Attire Ltd' in Bedford told ITV News Anglia that there have been people in the past hurt at graduation ceremonies.

Martin Lewis from 'Graduation Attire Ltd in Bedford Credit: ITV News Anglia

"There've been cases in the past where people have been hurt, especially bystanders, perhaps a child in a buggy if it falls on them. Based on that alone it should be stopped. The best solution is probably to improve the hat, you can't cut the corners off but you could make them softer."

– Martin Lewis, Graduation Attire Ltd
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