Mortar board throwing ban at UEA followed a single recorded injury over five years

The mortar boards fly at the first day of the UEA graduation ceremonies 2016. Picture: DENISE BRADLE

The mortar boards fly at the first day of the UEA graduation ceremonies 2016. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Only one person was officially recorded as injured by a mortar board at the UEA in the five years before it controversially stopped students throwing them in the air for post-graduation group photos.

The ban, ahead of last month's graduation ceremonies, saw the university branded the 'crackpop campus' in The Times, and was later reversed after being met by national ridicule.

The university had originally said the restriction was put in place because of 'a number of injuries over recent years to graduates hurt by falling mortarboards', and, in particular, a student being taken to A&E last year after a hat cut their cheek.

However, a Freedom of Information request has revealed the UEA only recorded one mortar board related injury in 2011-2015.

That injury, in 2014, was described as: 'One student continued to look forward after they had thrown their hat, against instructions, and was hit on the nose by a mortar board, resulting in a small cut and a nose bleed.'

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However, the Freedom of Information response added: 'In addition to the recorded information in the above table, in 2015 there was an incident resulting in injury. This was verbally reported and no records are held relating to it.'

The university said it did not have any information to indicate that any compensation was paid to the student hurt in 2014.

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A UEA spokesman said: 'There was no ban on throwing mortarboards at UEA. We reviewed concerns about organised group photography at graduation and took the view it should go ahead as normal. There was no ban and our graduates enjoyed their well-deserved celebrations.'

Asked whether the single recorded injury in a five year period showed that the original ban was an over-reaction, he twice repeated that the university reviewed the concerns and took the view that photography should go ahead as normal.

He added that the university had not been made aware of any mortar board injuries at this year's graduation events.

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