Students Set Up Petition for Graduation Caps this Summer


When you first applied to King’s, did you ever dream of throwing your cap up in the air at your graduation ceremony? Of posing for that perfect #meandmycap photo? Of maybe even framing it to show your grandkids? Of course, you did.

Well, thanks to Vivienne Westwood, these dreams have been shattered. Not only do we no longer get to wear a cap, but the (cap-less) gowns cost a bomb to hire. You can forget about actually buying it, keeping it, or framing it.

This is serious stuff, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. Last month King’s students set up an online petition for graduation caps to be included in the 2016 academic dress. They currently have 917 signatures but are expecting this number to grow.

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Organisers said on their page: ‘As students due to graduate in 2016, we feel we are missing out on a great university tradition and would love the option of being able to graduate with a cap this summer.’

Up until 2008, as King’s did not hold the right to award its own degrees, King’s graduates wore the academic dress of the University of London which included the all-important cap. It looked a bit like this:


Look how happy this guy is with his graduation hat. I want this feeling.

Graduation gowns like this one are based on medieval style dress which has been used since the very first graduation ceremony held in the Great Hall of King’s back in May 1850.

Despite this long tradition, when King’s secured its degree-awarding powers in 2007 and imposed them for the first time in 2008, the college felt there was ‘a need for King’s to design its own academic dress’.

World renowned fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood took on the task of designing our new gown. The aim was to take ‘essentially medieval costume’ and give it ‘an elegant update for the 21st century.’ This, apparently, meant saying au revoir, adios and Auf Wiedersehen to the cap.


The new hooded gowns are now black with different colour sashes depending on which Schools and level of degree you belong to you just have to pray that you chose the right school. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I’ll have to sport bright mint green. Not to mention their added ‘unique feature’: a lion button on each shoulder to represent our mascot Reggie the Lion. Yay.

king’s got in contact and said:

‘While mortarboard hats do not form part of the official academic dress at King’s, students may hire them for a small fee for use during the graduation event by contacting the Ede & Ravenscroft Private Hire service. Please note that as hats do not form part of the official academic dress they are not permitted to be worn when crossing the stage and any students hiring hats will be asked to remove them during the ceremony itself.’

So there you have it. You can hire it, but I’m not really sure what you’re supposed to do with it. Hold it? Get your mum to wear it?

Elegant? Yes. Modern? I think so. But where are the hats, Viv?

If you feel strongly about carrying on a medieval tradition of graduation caps, head over here and sign the petition.

Do you agree? Leave a comment