Bristol University announces it will no longer play national anthem at graduation ceremonies

Friday December 8 2023

Bristol University has quietly axed the national anthem from its graduation ceremonies as students claim the song is 'old-fashioned' and 'irrelevant'.

The Russel group university has found itself in hot water following its decision to abandon the national anthem at its graduation ceremonies.

The institution, which has held a Royal Charter since 1909, explained the change as a part of routine updates it makes to its ceremonies every year.

Speculation has arisen however that God Save The King was ditched following student complaints.

Speaking to The Sun newspaper, students expressed their approval in the university's decision to axe the anthem.

Protesters transporting the statue of Colston towards the river Avon in Bristol.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visit the Queen's Building at Bristol University, Friday 25 February 2005.

The Wills Memorial Building, part of the University of Bristol, where graduations take place.

Computer science student Suki Yuan, 22, said: “Students come here from all sections of society and the university probably thinks that the National Anthem may be offensive to some of them.”

Layla Daynes, 21, added: “The monarchy isn’t really relevant to my generation, so it wouldn’t be missed.”

Annie Lawlor, 23, concurred, explaining: “It’s a bit old-fashioned to have it played at a ceremony supposed to be celebrating the achievements of the individual student.”

Historically, Bristol University ended its graduation ceremonies with a rendition of the national anthem.

However, since last year, God Save The King has been slowly phased out with new graduates refusing to sing it.

The University, currently ranked ninth in Britain, said that the anthem will now only be played when a member of the Royal Family is present. 

Free Speech Union director Toby Young took university bosses to task over the decision.

He commented: 'Why are Britain's most prestigious universities openly contemptuous of the country's history and heritage?' 

The news comes as the university vowed to remove slave trader Edward Colston's emblem from its logo.

Professor Evelyn Welch, vice-chancellor of the university, announced the decision to strip Colston's emblem in an open letter, where she also apologised to those who had experienced racism at the institution. 

Colston's statue in the centre of Bristol was the subject of massive Black Lives Matter protests which spiralled out of control in June 2020.