More than 170 students at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) will graduate 'virtually' next week after their graduation ceremony was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The students – who were due to be awarded their degree and postgraduate awards at a ceremony at the University of Glasgow’s Bute Hall on July 6 – chose to graduate in absentia. They have been offered the opportunity to return for a celebration next summer, if circumstances allow. A further 20 students have deferred their graduation until 2021, while HN students will receive their awards later this year.

For some, Covid-19 was just an additional obstacle they had to overcome to graduate against the odds.

Kaleem Shaikh, 25, from Uddingston, came from a non-farming background to do an NC Agriculture at SRUC’s Oatridge campus in 2012.

Eight years later he is graduating with a 2:1 BSc (Hons) Agriculture degree from the Edinburgh campus – despite having to undergo multiple surgeries and extensive physiotherapy after suffering from displaced discs in his back. He has also built up a small flock of pedigree sheep and has a herd of goats.

Kaleem, who has been offered a technician’s post with the animal breeding company D and C Fawcett, in Penrith, said: “Thanks to understanding year tutors, lecturers and student support services, I have been able to encourage myself to battle through the pain and challenges to complete my studies as I originally planned – albeit a few years later.”

Another new entrant to farming, Katie Insch, worked her way up from an HNC to an Honours degree – as well as holding down a manager’s job, running her farm, helping in her parents’ business, and giving birth to two children – in addition to raising two others.

The 32-year-old, from Alford, Aberdeenshire, has been awarded a 2:1 BA (Hons) Rural Business Management degree from the Aberdeen campus.

“When I wasn’t on maternity leave, I also had a part-time job as well as the work on the farm,” she said. “We have a small flock of sheep and an even smaller suckler herd, so the weekends and evenings are usually when we try and fit in all the farm jobs.

“Continuing with coursework and exams whilst pregnant and with newborns was challenging – I did presentations and exams when the babies were literally days old – but I had good support and thankfully baby number four is the world’s most well behaved baby, so carrying out my dissertation wasn’t as bad as I had feared.”

Elisha Rutherford, who has just graduated from SRUC’s Ayr campus with a 2:1 BA (Hons) Rural Business Management degree, was due to give birth on the day of her Advanced Financial Management and Taxation Exam.

Instead, due to Covid-19, she was able to upload her essay exam substitutes early and prepare for the arrival of her son Harlow. However, the pregnancy itself was not easy, with Elisha suffering from severe sickness, as well as sciatica, pelvic girdle pain and anaemia.

“The baby was fine, but I was literally crumbling around him,” the 23-year-old from Mauchline said. “This made attending classes virtually impossible a lot of the time, as I couldn’t sit for more than five minutes without being in severe pain or being sick.

“However, the constant support I had from my lecturers meant it was possible for me to complete my studies successfully.”

In a message to the graduates, principal and chief executive of SRUC, Professor Wayne Powell, said: “While this may not have been how you saw your studies coming to an end, it is certainly an historic time to be graduating – and one which you will remember for the rest of your lives.

“It is a testament to your hard work that you have managed to complete your studies despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are very proud of the way you have adapted and I’m certain that the skills we have all learned during this crisis will serve us well in the future. Indeed, learning to think about uncertainty and adapt to it is one of the most important skills you can acquire.”

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)

Summer Graduation 2020

Bachelor of Arts in Rural Business Management

First Class Honours: Ross MacKinnon

Second Class Honours - Upper Division: Lynnette McGregor Fisher, Sally Jeanette Glennie, Hannah Louise Gordon, Rupert Grainger, Katie Louise Insch, Becky Grace Little, Rebecca Louise McNaughton, Angela Millar, Elisha Edgar Rutherford, Ailsa Margaret Taylor, Iain Donald Robert Wallace

Second Class Honours - Lower Division: Samantha Brown, Morgan Hastie, Andrew Lumgair

Pass with Distinction: Catriona Ann Davidson

Pass with Merit: Linda Catherine O'Hara, Rachael Elizabeth Louise Wood

Pass: Craig Ian Ross, Adam Richard Bell Venman

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Bioscience

First Class Honours: Charlotte Louise Cooper

Second Class Honours - Upper Division: Katie Mary Brown, Rachel O'Connor

Pass with Distinction: Laura Cochrane, Ryan Robert Montgomery

Pass with Merit: Iain Alexander Campbell

Pass: Natalie Elizabeth McMichael

Bachelor of Science in Agriculture

First Class Honours: Andrew Derek Robinson, Holly Elizabeth Wilson

Second Class Honours - Upper Division: Jack Timothy Adkin, Alasdair James Allan, Jack Cooper, Anna Isabella Trotter Duncan, Callum John Grant, Conor Logue, Keira Karen Sannachan, Kaleemuddin Shaikh, Craig Ingram Stout

Second Class Honours - Lower Division: Emma Donaghey, Paul Alan Duguid, Stuart Limond, Darren McCann,

Pass with Distinction: Fraser Morison Smith

Pass with Merit: Kelly Anne Aitchison, Thomas John Fairbairn, Grigor Fraser Forbes, James Forsyth McMiken, Ben Harvey Nicholson, Bruce Ian Pattullo, Adam Thomas Stewart

Bachelor of Science in Applied Animal Science

First Class Honours: Johanne Sophie Boye Straube

Second Class Honours - Upper Division: Emily Christine Adie, Kirstie Anne Andrews, Jessica Baganz, Jade Mary Duncan, Ellen Sarah Gateley, Heather McClure, Caroline Smith, Zia Louise Vest

Second Class Honours - Lower Division: Indyah Jay Heard, Rachel Elizabeth Mary Morris, Holly Olivia Mulligan, Freja Stewart, Emily Kayleigh Strachan

Pass with Distinction: Jennifer Ann MacDonell

Bachelor of Science in Countryside Management

First Class Honours: Gus Bain Mitchell Routledge

Second Class Honours - Upper Division: Anya Norrie, Ellen Louise Oakley, Christopher Greg David Walker

Second Class Honours - Lower Division: Rhae Dorothy Grace Lobban,

Pass with Distinction: Paloma Del Carmen Espindola

Pass with Merit: Allan Duncan MacAskill

Bachelor of Science in Environmental Resource Management

First Class Honours: Nim Kibbler, Alexander Neil Paterson

Second Class Honours - Upper Division: Hannah Carson, Aidan Christopher Cashin, Manuel Caucci, Euan Douglas Connell, Lisa Dettmer, Alexander George Dixon, Katie Helen Goodfellow, Lucy Catherine-Aidan Hutton, Amber Lane Jardine, Hamish Lewis, Clare Murray, Oliver Jolyon David Onslow, Hamish Frank Robertson, Dante Joseph Sosa, Caroline Elizabeth Mariette Vincent

Second Class Honours - Lower Division: Liam Keir Grant, Nathan James Keyes, Michael Andrew Kidd, Rory Douglas Wood, Jesus Salvador Zapata Vera

Pass: Lawrie James English-Smith

Bachelor of Science in Garden and Greenspace Design

Pass with Distinction: Ignace Del Moral

Bachelor of Science in Horticulture

Second Class Honours - Upper Division: Franziska Goeckeritz, Ruairi Nicol Peden, Jed Thomson-Cramer, Elizabeth Ann Weir

Bachelor of Science in Horticulture with Plantsmanship

First Class Honours: Liam Morton

Second Class Honours - Upper Division: Thomas Ian McFadyen, Gideon Allen Taylor, Jonathan Mark Wilson

Pass with Distinction: Nicholas Peter Craven

Pass with Merit: Andrew Melvin Hinson

Bachelor of Science in Renewables and Environmental Technology

First Class Honours: Ann Morag West

Second Class Honours - Upper Division: Kenneth William James Boyd, Ahren Brown, Sophie Crawford, Sarah Farrell, Anne-Mari Gillespie, Justin Given, Declan Service

Pass with Distinction: Calum Ramage

Master of Science in Agricultural Professional Practice

Pass with Merit: Joanna Louise Foubister, George Alexander Peart, Maimie Alison Sloan

Pass: Mellanie Jane Robson

Master of Science in Applied Poultry Science

Pass with Merit: Matthew James Balfour, Lyndsey Ann Cassidy, Trevor Herron, Anna Pipi, Diane Theresa Tanner

Pass: Declan McEntee

Master of Science in Countryside Management

Pass with Distinction: Eric Rietveld

Pass: Edward Simon Daniel Bonn

Master of Science in Organic Farming

Pass with Distinction: Jennifer Byrne

Pass with Merit: Miriam Al-Futaih, Alison Goldberger, Evangelia Kourellou

Pass: Lewis Mark Clare, Derek Kelly, Jason Anthony McCormack, Karin Stierle

Postgraduate Certificate in Agricultural Professional Practice

Pass with Merit: Stacey Hamilton, Iordan Sandu, Mark John Westcott

Pass: Robert Stewart Black, Charles John Bruce, Alice Adams Lennox, Hannah Kathryn Thomson

Postgraduate Certificate in Countryside Management

Pass with Merit: Jillian Gibson

Postgraduate Diploma in Agricultural Professional Practice

Pass: John Hamilton

Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Poultry Science

Pass with Merit: Niamh Molloy

Postgraduate Diploma in Countryside Management

Pass with Merit: Elliott Markus Noble

Pass: Dianne Kay Dixon

Postgraduate Diploma in Organic Farming

Pass with Distinction: John Thomas Lalor

Pass with Merit: Daniel Eugene McGinty

Pass: Richard Adams