AUAS to award ceremonial diplomas

29 Aug 2022 13:30 | Communication

The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) intends to start awarding ceremonial diplomas this academic year to students who, because of gender or personal reasons, want to be known by another name. Students are called by their legal name during their graduation ceremonies, but this can lead to socially unsafe situations for trans and non binary students.

Executive Board Chair Jopie Nooren was given a petition today by the ASVA Student Union, which represents students at the AUAS (and UvA). Containing 1192 signatures and endorsed by 43 organisations, the petition calls for ceremonial degree certificates to be made available for trans and non-binary students. A ceremonial diploma shows the name students choose themselves. It can only be used for the graduation ceremony and is not legally valid.

Trans and non-binary students do not identify with their given names. Receiving a diploma with a so-called ‘dead’ name can cause feelings of a lack of recognition, discomfort or powerlessness. Using this dead name can also lead to the accidental disclosure of the transgender identity of trans students.

It is currently not legally possible to put chosen names on degree certificates because names on these documents are linked to official identity documentation and systems. Names can only be changed after individuals undergo the due legal process. Education minister Dijkgraaf pledged to investigate the available national legal options for name-changes on diplomas during a visit to Amsterdam on 13 June.

It is not yet known when AUAS will award its first ceremonial diplomas.