Live updates

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


HSE: Decision to ban graduation mortarboard throwing tradition is 'over-the-top'

The UEA campus, Norwich Credit: ITV News Anglia

The Health and Safety Executive has criticised The University of East Anglia for banning the tradition of throwing mortarboards in the air at graduation ceremonies.

The UEA has said it's imposed the ban after a number of injuries and that they came to the decision to 'ensure no student's graduation day is ruined'.

But the HSE has hit back saying the banning of mortarboard throwing on health and safety grounds is one of their most popular myths and appears in their 'top 10 all-time worst health and safety excuses'.

The HSE went on to say that the chance of being injured by a flying mortarboard is 'incredibly small' and that it is 'over-the-top' to impose an outright ban.

"You’d think universities would study history and do a bit of research before repeating tired health and safety myths like this one....As far back as 2008, HSE made clear the law does not stop graduates having fun and celebrating their success in the time-honoured fashion.The chance of being injured by a flying mortar board is incredibly small and it’s over-the-top to impose an outright ban. We usually find the concern is actually about the hats being returned in good condition.”

– Geoff Cox, Health & Safety Executive public sector team
Students at the UEA today practising their graduation poses without mortarboards Credit: ITV News Anglia

Students graduating from The University of East Anglia this year will have images of the flying mortarboards added onto their graduation photographs afterwards.

"The decision to not have the traditional hat throwing photo opportunity for all students this year follows a number of injuries over recent years to graduates hurt by falling mortarboards. This is an unacceptable risk and we want to ensure no student's graduation day is ruined by the potential for avoidable injury."

– UEA Spokesperson

New smoke-free initiative launched in Norfolk

The programme will look at whether smokers are more successful quitting as part of a group than by themselves. Credit: PA

The first smoke-free initiative of its kind in Norfolk is being launched in October, which will test whether smokers are more successful quitting as part of a group than by themselves.

As part of the ‘Quit Strong’ initiative, smokers will take part in weekly group sessions over a period of a month.

They will get advice from advisors and be issued stop smoking medication prescriptions for their planned smoking ‘quit day’.

They will also get carbon monoxide testing to compare their readings over the course of the programme.

The programme is being jointly run by Smokefree Norfolk, which is provided by Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, and the Norwich Medical School.

It will coincide with the launch of the the newly formed ‘Addiction Research Group’ within the Norwich Medical School.

"Generally some people find that they have more success quitting together in a group compared to one-to-one sessions with advisors and these sessions aim to attract likeminded people who want to quit smoking as one big team."

– James Wade, Lead Advisor for Smokefree Norfolk

“From a research point of view we will be interested track people’s efforts and will be trying to work out whether quitting in a group results in better outcomes than quitting alone.”

– Dr Caitlin Notley, University of East Anglia


UEA climbs to 2nd place in national student survey

The University of East Anglia has come second in this year’s National Student Survey (NSS) for student Overall Satisfaction levels, rising one place from last year.

Full-time, first degree final-year undergraduate taught students across the UK are invited annually to complete a questionnaire about various elements of their university education and the results released today show UEA achieved a score of 92% in the Overall Satisfaction theme.

"The National Student Survey is a key barometer of how our students feel about their time here at UEA. Scoring so highly for Satisfaction is testament to the efforts of academic and support staff as well as the Student Union and of course the students themselves in making UEA a top-class place to live and study."

– Prof David Richardson, UEA Vice-chancellor

UEA scientists say they've worked out why men exist by studying beetles.

Tribolium flour beetles Credit: UEA

Scientists at the University of East Anglia say they've worked out why men exist, by studying the habits of beetles.

Biologists have long puzzled over why males have survived given that their only contribution to reproduction is sperm.

In evolutionary terms, scientists say it makes more sense to have an all-female asexual population which creates daughters who can reproduce rather than sons who can not.

But new research suggests that sexual competition for mates keeps the population healthy and free of disease, keeping it genetically diverse.

Scientists studied a colony of Tribolium flour beetles and watched them evolve for 10 years under controlled laboratory conditions.

In some groups 90 beetles had to compete for the affections of 10 females, while in others females far outnumbered the males.

After 7 years or 50 generations of the beetles, researchers found that males who had competed the most for female attention were fitter and more resistant to disease and inbreeding.

In contrast beetles without sexual selection became extinct after 10 generations.

"These results show that sexual selection is important for population health and persistence, because it helps to purge negative and maintain positive genetic variation in a population. To be good at out-competing rivals and attracting partners in the struggle to reproduce, an individual has to be good at most things, so sexual selection provides an important and effective filter to maintain and improve population genetic health."

– Prof Matt Gage, UEA

The research has been published in the Journal of Nature called 'Sexual selection protects against extinction'.

UEA students use replica home to help train for the care industry

The University of East Anglia may have a population of 15,000 students but it's also where you'll find a unique bungalow with all the mod cons to help the elderly, disabled and frail have greater independence in their own homes.

The replica home helps students, health professionals and care home staff in their training but it's also where patients, family and carers can come to see the latest gadgets.

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

Load more updates