We know there are lots of unfamiliar words and phrases used in conjunction with our graduation ceremonies. We hope this glossary helps to make things clearer for you.


An alumnus is a graduate from a school, college or university. Alumni is the plural of alumnus. There are more than 200,000 members of the University of Leicester’s alumni community.


The act of giving or bestowing an honour. In this case, it's when you officially receive your degree.

Distinguished Honorary Fellow

Distinguished Honorary Fellowships are the highest honour the University can give. We award them to people who have given a huge level of personal service to the University, and already have an honorary degree.


A person who is about to receive a degree.


A person who has received a degree.

Graduation ceremony

The official ceremony where your degree is conferred (awarded). 

Honorary graduate

Each year, after careful consideration, the University awards a small number of honorary degrees. We do this to recognise the outstanding achievements of people who are distinguished in a field or activity that fits well with our University mission. They receive their degrees at our graduation ceremonies, and become honorary graduates of the University. 

In absentia

If you are not able to attend your graduation ceremony, you will graduate in absentia. This means you will still be awarded your degree even though you are not present.


The academic cap (hat) that you will hire along with hiring a gown to wear on your graduation day. We politely ask you not to wear your hat inside during your ceremony.

Presiding Officer

The Presiding Officer oversees the degree ceremonies. They are responsible for conferring the degrees as graduands process across the stage. This is usually the Chancellor or President and Vice-Chancellor.

School/departmental reception

We'll invite you and your family/friends to come to a reception on your graduation day. This will be a chance to celebrate with your course mates, and staff from your school or department. The reception may take place before or after your graduation ceremony. 

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