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University criticised after telling students to avoid 'short skirts and cleavage' on graduation day

'Possibly the biggest mistake I see at graduation is girls treating the event like a night out. Short skirts and cleavage on show are totally out of the question'

Siobhan Fenton
Social Affairs Correspondent
Friday 09 December 2016 16:00 GMT
Students on graduating from university.
Students on graduating from university. (Getty)

A university has been criticised after telling female students to cover their “cleavage” during their graduation ceremonies.

Queen’s University Belfast, which is a member of the prestigious Russell Group and is ranked 33rd in the UK by Times Higher Education, published an article on their website advising students who are due to graduate shortly. The article stated that they were offering style guidance from a former student Thom Dickerson, who now runs a tailoring company.

He wrote: “Possibly the biggest mistake I see at graduation is girls treating the event like a night out. Graduation is a formal event and the dress code should match this. Short skirts and cleavage on show are totally out of the question.

“Think Grace Kelly, not Kim Kardashian, at least until the day is done: you can always change before heading out!” The advice also suggests women use “discreet safety pins” to avoid “wardrobe disasters”.

Sarah Wright, a politics student at the university, told The Independent she found the advice “outrageous”. She said: “It’s outrageous that QUB would even consider, never mind print, such sexist advice for women graduands. These women students have spent thousands of pounds, and years of their lives studying for their respective degrees.

“It should not be inconceivable that the focus should be on their achievements, not on moralising regarding what they choose as adults to wear to celebrate the occasion.”

A spokesperson for Queen's University Belfast told The Independent: "Queen's University Belfast's Graduation webpage includes news, tips and information for graduating students. This is a dynamic webpage which is constantly updated. It currently includes stories about the achievements of our most recent graduates."

In May of this year, the University of Edinburgh removed an article on its website after it was accused of giving sexist graduation advice for female students’ attire. It stated: “Girls, this is your time to invest in some glamour… Remember, image is everything!” The university subsequently removed the advice and issued an apology.

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