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Edinburgh Napier celebrates class of 2020/21 by taking over the capital for a graduation with a twist!

Social Sciences graduate David Hughes

 A unique city-wide takeover will showcase Edinburgh Napier’s (@EdinburghNapier) graduate names across billboards, bus stops, trams and more –  

With physical graduation ceremonies being cancelled for the second year in a row, Edinburgh Napier University is today launching their ‘city takeover’ to celebrate the success of hundreds of students who missed out on their traditional graduation ceremonies.  

The names of the University’s recent graduates will cover billboards, bus stops, a classic Edinburgh taxi and even a tram in tribute to those who were unable to receive their degree at the Usher Hall because of the pandemic. 

This summer’s graduation ceremonies and last year’s summer and autumn ceremonies were all cancelled due to Covid-19 related restrictions, disappointing students who had put in years of hard work only to be denied their traditional day of celebration. 

However, the University was determined to find alternative ways to salute the achievements of the graduates of 2020 and 2021, who had overcome the most challenging study conditions in living memory to reach their goals. 

The city takeover, from July to late August, will see the names of graduates from all six academic Schools displayed across 18 billboards and 100 bus stops, accompanied by messages underlining the University’s pride in them and offering congratulations on their success.  

Strategically placed around the capital, graduates can find their names via the ‘Find My Billboard’ feature on the University website by using their student number to pinpoint the site displaying their name. Locations will be linked to academic disciplines: School of Health & Social Care names will be near hospitals, School of Arts & Creative Industries names near arts venues and School of Computing names near tech industry sites. 

The takeover campaign will be captured on film and complemented by social media coverage with dedicated #NapierNames and local radio advertising. Students who missed out on the traditional day of celebration at the Usher Hall are also getting the chance to come on to the Craiglockhart campus to have gowned-up pictures with family and friends taken by the University’s regular graduation services partner so they have a permanent souvenir. 

Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal & Vice Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University, said:

“The last 16 months have presented students with formidable challenges as they have had to adjust to different ways of learning while coping with all of the disruption the pandemic has caused to our normal way of life. 

“Our graduates have shown enormous resilience and strength of character in completing their studies during this period of upheaval and we wanted to show them just how proud we are of what they have achieved. It’s a huge achievement to graduate and we wanted to give students the same euphoria you get when your names called out on stage.” 

Case Studies 

Hayley Kane, 24, BSc Animal and Conservation Biology graduate 

A student who was diagnosed with a rare cancer at a key point in her studies has successfully graduated from Edinburgh Napier University with a first class honours degree. 

Hayley Kane recovered from the devastating news, and two operations, to complete her BSc (Hons) in Animal and Conservation Biology – even though at times she had to leave lectures to change her dressing following radiotherapy treatment.  

Hayley, of Fairmilehead in Edinburgh, was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma shortly before her third  

year assessments started – although she only learned about it after it had been removed. The rare form of cancer develops in cells around joints and tendons, often near the knee, and is most commonly associated with young adults.  

Hayley had had issues with her knee for almost a decade, which worsened to a point where she was in constant pain and struggling to walk without crutches. 

The 24-year-old is now set to continue her studies in September with an MSc in Statistical Ecology at St Andrews University. 

Hayley said:

“I’m thrilled to have completed my degree and I hope my experience will serve as inspiration to other students who may be struggling due to external factors.  It is possible to overcome hardships and achieve your goals as long as you are willing to work for it.”  

Dr Gavin Ballantyne, lecturer in Edinburgh Napier’s School of Applied Sciences, said:

“Hayley has done brilliantly at Edinburgh Napier. Not only has she overcome serious health issues, but she’s also remained engaged, motivated and has produced an excellent final year project. We’re so pleased to see her graduate with a first-class degree and now go on to start an MSc at St Andrews.” 


Hashani Gunasekera, 28, MBA Business Administration graduate 

A new Edinburgh Napier graduate’s path to an MBA was almost wrecked by Sri Lanka’s horrific Easter bombings. 

Health management student Hashani Gunasekera was finalising her research proposal for her online course when suicide bombers claimed the lives of 269 people in Sri Linka on April 21 2019. 

The atrocity sparked widespread tension on the South Asian island and a security crackdown which included a ban on public use of the internet. 

Then, just as the situation was stabilising, along came the Covid pandemic which forced Hashani to defer her research into patients undergoing elective surgery so she could work on the hospital frontline. 

In a year in which no graduate had it easy, the 28-year-old has many reasons to be proud of the Masters in Business Administration (Health Management) she was finally awarded this week by Edinburgh Napier. 

Hashani said:

“Completing my MBA has been a physical and mental struggle so I am very proud to have got over the line, with particular thanks to my supervisor Libby Campbell, who showed the utmost support throughout all these crises.” 

Hashani’s course was delivered by the University in partnership with the Sri Lanka-based Business Management School, and Edinburgh Napier teaching staff travelled to South Asia for the orientation programme and some lectures. 

Hashani is now working as a medical officer in a government hospital in Sri Lanka, a role which combines medical and administrative work.  

Libby Campbell, lecturer in Edinburgh Napier’s School of Health & Social Care, said:

“Hashani should be proud of herself, achieving an MBA from Edinburgh Napier and doing so entirely online, when it was available, while working in frontline healthcare, during a major incident and its fallout, and during the pandemic. I’m glad I was able to help support her and I wish her well for the future.”   

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