6 November 2020

Historic matriculation at UCPH accompanied by a Danish pop sensation


On 21 August, new students at UCPH could attend the first ever online matriculation held at UCPH due to COVID-19 restrictions. As a special addition, it included a concert by the Danish pop diva Jada.

Usually, some 2,000 students gather on the square in front of the old university building in the city centre of Copenhagen to celebrate their matriculation to UCPH. This year, however, things were different. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, gatherings of more than 100 people were banned. The traditional welcome event for new students was therefore converted into an online event that was live-streamed on Facebook and UCPH’s website.


The goal was to get at least 2,000 viewers, which was the number of students who attended the matriculation in August 2019. The actual views exceeded all expectations: 4,100 people tuned in live on Facebook and UCPH’s website. The event created more than 900 comments in the live stream on Facebook, and 1,500 watched the event in the following days. In addition, it was probably not insignificant that the Danish pop diva Jada ended the show with a beautiful concert.

One might say that UCPH made a smart choice when they asked Jada to perform at the ceremony. With more than five million streams on Spotify and a main audience that perfectly fits the young new students, UCPH made an extra effort to get students to participate in the online event.

The importance of a handshake

The challenge was to find a way to embrace the new format but still maintain the traditions of the matriculation. It is a tradition that the Rector gives a speech from the steps of the main building and that the deans introduce their faculties wearing their traditional robes.
At the end of the ceremony, as the most important tradition, students shake hands with the Rector as a token of their intent to honour the spirit of the University.
But this year everything had to be different.
The deans in their traditional robes each presented their faculty to the students via embedded video presentations while the comedian and host Mikkel Rask kicked off the event from an empty ceremonial hall and talked to the new students about their expectations for their new academic lives via Zoom.

 “It’s no secret that I had hoped to attend in person, but when that wasn’t possible, this was as good as it gets,” Law student Martin shared live at the event via Zoom.

Host Mikkel Rask behind the scenes. Photo by Nikolai Nilares.

Solving the challenges

In light of the COVID-19 challenges, Rector Henrik C. Wegener – wearing his robe and chain – spoke to the students from the ceremonial hall. He talked about how the world can change quickly and drastically, as seen with the corona pandemic and climate change, but that they, as students at UCPH, can help solve many of the challenges facing society and the world.
Afterwards, the Rector stated:

“Even if we could not be together in person, I hope that the students who were watching the event on Friday felt that they have been invited into a community where we support each other and make each other stronger.”

Rector Henrik C. Wegener giving his speech to the new students at UCPH.  Photo by Nikolai Linares.

The online matriculation symbolises our reality very well. We are still learning how to navigate in the digital arena when it comes to hosting online events, but with innovation, creativity and a high level of professionalism we are able to create new and interesting formats that can engage students and hopefully give them a good start to their studies at UCPH.

By Kathrine Bruun Funch & Christina Grauballe