Thousands of graduating students at Charles Sturt University have had to postpone or re-invent their end-of-degree celebrations in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings.
Up to 6000 students were expected to take part in a graduation ceremony across the university's footprint.
Last year, throughout December, 27 separate graduation events took place. This year, unfortunately, there will be no in-person ceremonies.
"Graduation ceremonies take a fairly long time to plan," said deputy vice-chancellor Jenny Roberts.
"We had to make the decision fairly early on to not go ahead [with graduation ceremonies]."
The university also plans to re-invite the class of 2020 to formal graduation ceremonies once all restrictions have been removed and it is safe to do so again.
"We're just hoping that in 2021 we'll be able to get back to what we love to do, and that is hosting these graduations," said Ms Roberts.
Tareq Sorial, aged 20, finished his three-year bachelor of agriculture in Wagga this year and told The Daily Advertiser it is unlikely he will be able to attend a ceremony next year.
"I probably won't have the time to get back [to Wagga] for it [because] I'm joining the army," Mr Sorial said.
"I'll be in Canberra next year. It's something I've always wanted to do, but I wanted to get a degree in something I enjoyed before I went off to do that."
Unfortunately, Mr Sorial has become acquainted with disappointments this year after much of his on-campus life was disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis.
"This time we didn't get much time to be there [at uni] at all, we were off-campus for most of it," he said.
"It's no-one's fault but everything really was cancelled. Ag races couldn't go ahead and that's a big event in Wagga, it was a shame to not have anything like that."
Aside from a few sessions of rugby training and eight weeks of practical classes at the end of his course, Mr Sorial has spent very little time on-campus since March.
Even as restrictions have eased across the nation, Ms Roberts said the decision to hold-off on in-person graduations has not changed.
"We are conscious of the fact that we have a lot of people studying all over the country and graduations attract a lot of people from outside our communities," she said.
"We had to be careful about bringing a lot of people together in our communities."
Describing graduation season as "the university's favourite time of year", Ms Roberts said the postponement of ceremonies has been a "tough decision to make".
The annual Town and Gown parade through Wagga's main streets has also been cancelled this year from fear it would attract a gathering.
But the university will continue to offer on-campus celebrations in a COVID-safe way. Graduands are still able to hire gowns, organise photo shoots, take part in social media competitions and purchase memorabilia.
Conferral documentation will also be provided to students who have met the requirements to graduate, even without any graduation ceremonies.
"It's really important [that the students] get their documentation as they go out looking for jobs," Ms Roberts said.
On December 4, up to 3500 graduates were conferred with their awards, including 18 students who received the university medal.
The remaining students will receive their awards on December 23.