Mortar danger? University bans hat-throwing at graduation

Health and safety officials have criticised a university which has banned the graduation day tradition of throwing a mortarboard into the air over apparent safety fears.

The University of East Anglia in Norwich claimed the time-honoured celebration posed an "unacceptable risk" and said a number of graduates had been hurt by falling hats in recent years.

Instead it will offer £8 photographs of students miming the throw with the mortarboards added digitally.

But the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the ban was "over the top" and perpetuated a common "myth" with any risk of danger "incredibly small".

Third year English literature student Alice Kashia told ITV's Good Morning Britain she was "horrified" by the ban and vowed to defy it when she graduates this summer.

A university spokesperson told student newspaper The Tab the ban had been backed by photographers and the academic dress suppliers, who "often receive back damaged mortarboards".

HSE's head of public sector Geoff Cox said he wished the university would be better educated on the real risks.

Plans for the mimed photographs were initially sent to third and fourth-year law students by Penguin Photography, who said the digital versions ensured students' faces would not be obscured by the falling hats.

But the offer was criticised by the president of the university's Law Society.

Penguin Photography told ITV News it would "much prefer" to take the mortarboard-throwing pictures but has to "comply with the university's wishes".