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New Danish students may be kept out of welcome ceremony

The University of Copenhagen may have to turn new Danish students away at the door at this year's matriculation ceremony - even if they have tickets

The University of Copenhagen hosts a party for all of its new students – the matriculation ceremony Friday 31 August. Every single of the 7,415 freshmen have been invited, and if they wish to participate, they have to print a ticket or save one to their phone.

The University does not keep tabs on how many students sign up for the party, so in theory every single of them could turn up. With a ceremonial hall with a capacity of 455 people, standing, this can make for a sweltering fire hazard or – more likely – a lot of disappointed students not being let in.

Students will be turned away at the door

Last year approximately two thousand students turned up in high hopes – in keeping with tradition – of shaking hands with the rector. However, many were disappointed to be turned away at the door and led directly to the after party. This year the University of Copenhagen has offered places to more candidates than ever before, so chances are that the matriculation will be bigger, and rectors palms sorer, than ever.

The matriculation ceremony is split into three rounds: One in English for international students at 13:30, and two in Danish at 15:00 and 16:30 in the university’s tapestry covered ceremonial hall, but even so it is clear that many students will be turned away at the door. Even if they have tickets.

Bad experience for Student Council

Last year, Student Council volunteers helped the university with the ceremony, and were assigned the unpleasant task of turning students away and sending them directly to the after party in Lindegården – the yard behind the university’s main building. The Student Council reported that many matriculation guests were disappointed and surprised to miss the traditional ceremony last year, especially as they had tickets.

»A few of our volunteers had a bad time turning people away from the welcoming ceremony last year,« says Head of the Student Council Bjarke Lindemann Jepsen. For this reason, the Student Council has decided not to man the doors of the party this year, but help out in other ways.

This year, students who shook hands with the rector as well as those who won’t get the chance, can look forward to beer and free hot dogs in the yard.

No trouble for internationals

The University Copenhagen website states that they invite considerably more people to the matriculation than they have room for.

»Unfortunately, there are limited places to the welcoming in the Ceremonial Hall. Those that cannot get access are welcome to go directly to the adjacent yard – Lindegarden,« they state on their Danish site, but they do not mention that you can be turned away even if you have personal ticket.

The problem is not mentioned at all on the English equivalent, but luckily there has never been any trouble with the amount of international students before.

A rare exception

Our sister site Uniavisen has spoken to the UCPH Communications office, which are responsible for the matriculation ceremony. In an email to Uniavisen Jasper Steen Winkel, vice president of communications, writes that the large number of attending students in 2011 was a rare exception, and it was the first time in 10 years that the university had to turn students away at the door. Winkel also writes, that the matriculation has before been held in 3 rounds for the Danish students, but that the number of attending students for the last round was disappointing.

However, Jesper Steen Winkel elaborates: »If we again this year experience too many attending people, we have agreed with the Rector to go back to having three rounds«.

According to Winkel, having the matriculation ceremony outside on Frue Plads, where there is room for more attendees, is difficult as inviting students into the festive atmosphere of the ceremonial hall is a big part of the matriculation tradition.
Besides, Winkel adds, it will be impractical if it rains and difficult to keep the matriculation exclusively for new university students as curious passersby will join in.

Packed – inside-out

Presumably, the steps of the university main building will be packed as is: The city council has loaned the square in front of the building (Frue Plads) to an art festival for children, which has its opening day on 31 August too. Schools from the entire municipality has been invited, and the arrangers are expecting a minimum of 500, perhaps a thousand or more, to join.

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