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Deputy PM criticises Bristol Uni’s decision to remove the national anthem from graduation

Oliver Dowden asked if the university is ‘ashamed of their British heritage’

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden yesterday questioned whether the University of Bristol should continue to be funded partly by the government after its decision earlier this week to remove the national anthem from its graduation ceremonies.

Dowden tweeted on 8th December asking if Bristol University is “too ashamed of their British heritage” and if it “no longer wants to be subsidised by [the] British taxpayer?”

The internationally ranked institution announced the decision earlier this week following claims from some students that the national anthem is “old-fashioned and offensive to some”.

Graduation ceremonies used to include a rendition of the anthem after certificates were handed out, but now the relevance of the song has been questioned, leading to this “updating” of the itinerary.

The anthem has not been played at graduation since 2022.

The education secretary, Gillian Keegan, said: “This is ridiculous. Universities should stand up for our British values and stop giving in to woke ideology.”

A spokesperson for the university said: “The university routinely updates aspects of its graduation ceremonies, which included the 2020 decision that the national anthem would be played when representatives of the Royal Family, such as the Lord-Lieutenant, are in attendance.”

The decision comes after vice-chancellor Evelyn Welch announced that the university logo would be updated to remove associations with the slave trader Edward Colston.

Welch also revealed the university will not update the names of old buildings or remove the emblems of the Wills or Fry families after 4,000 responses to the consultation expressed a desire to acknowledge and explain the past.

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