HUNDREDS of students graduated from the Royal Agricultural University at Convocation this week as the university held its annual graduation ceremonies in Cirencester Parish Church.

The RAU recently celebrated a year since it was awarded full university status, and Cirencester became a university town, so it was fitting that the event was held in the town itself. Cirencester Parish Church provided the perfect backdrop for the traditional ceremonies on Tuesday 29 and Wednesday 30 July.

The university held three separate Convocation ceremonies over the two days for its four dedicated Schools, the School of Agriculture, Food and Environment (SAFE), the School of Business and Entrepreneurship (SBE), the School of Equine Management and Science (SEMS), and the School of Real Estate and Land Management (RELM).

Oliver Fielding, 21 from Chippenham, graduated with an Upper Second Class BSc (Hons) Rural Land Management on Tuesday. Oliver was awarded the Dent Silver Trophy at Convocation, as the student who has made the greatest contribution to University life.

He said: “A keen interest in country sports instilled in me a love of the countryside, whilst also driving me to gain a sound understanding of land management and agriculture. I start work for Savills as a Graduate Rural Surveyor in September and am looking forward to the new challenges ahead of me. I am grateful for the support and advice I have gained from my lecturers whilst studying, and will be leaving Cirencester with plenty of fond memories!”

Honorary Fellowships are awarded each year to people who have made a significant contribution to those areas of life in which the University provides education and research. This year, Fellowships were awarded to Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, Henry Cator OBE, FRICS, DL, and James Townshend.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown graduated from the Royal Agricultural College in 1975 with a Diploma in Rural Estate Management. A farmer himself, Mr Clifton-Brown has a particular interest in trade and foreign affairs, and has helped the RAU in fostering overseas relationships.

MR Clifton-Brown MP addressed business and equine students and spoke about the importance of science, innovation and technology in driving the industry forwards. James Townshend addressed agriculture and food students and discussed the value of people and the skills they can bring to a business.

Of the undergraduates, 51 students achieved a BSc (Hons) degree at First Class level and 177 obtained an Upper Second Class honours degree. Furthermore, 23 students gained Distinction awards on postgraduate diplomas and Masters degree programmes.

Graduates were joined by their friends and family, and special guests from the town including the Mayor of Cirencester, Councillor Joe Harris and the High Sherriff of Gloucestershire, Mr Thomas Frost. The University has strong international links with students from more than 45 different countries. Visitors travelling from as far afield as China included Professor Dai Jiagan, Vice-Minister at the Ministry of Education (MoE) of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Wang Shi, Chairman and Founder of Vanke Co Ltd, and Dr Tiger Wang, RAU Director of Marketing in China and CEO of Sinocampus Ltd.