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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 March, 2005, 12:23 GMT
Row blows up over kilt ban move
The university decided to enforce its dress policy
Cambridge University has come under intense criticism after banning Scottish students from wearing kilts at graduation ceremonies.

The institution has outlawed the kilt along with other forms of national dress and armed forces uniforms.

Deputy First Minister and Cambridge graduate Jim Wallace condemned the ban, along with the Scottish National Party and Scottish Conservatives.

A university spokesman said it wanted all graduates to be seen as equals.

Mr Wallace told The Scotsman newspaper: "Instead of clamping down, they should be more flexible.

The Praelectors (graduation regulations officials) found that just recently the breaches of their regulations have been more prolific and more extreme
Cambridge University spokesman

"You must be able to combine the best of the traditional, such as gowns and hoods, with something that allows you, if you want to, to wear your national dress.

"As long as it is still dignified, then this should be allowed."

The SNP's home affairs spokesman, Kenny MacAskill, described the ban to the newspaper as "petty and very narrow-minded".

And Bill Aitken, Scottish Conservative MSP for Glasgow, called it "total and utter nonsense".

A spokesman for Cambridge University said that graduation regulations had always stressed that traditional dress - trousers and ties for men, dresses or suits for women - should be worn, but they had never really been enforced until now.

Religious exception

The decision to ban national dress, including kilts and army uniforms, came as more and more people took to wearing them.

He said: "The Praelectors (graduation regulations officials) found that just recently the breaches of their regulations have been more prolific and more extreme.

"They asked if they could allow them to be enforced."

He explained: "The underlying reason for the graduation ceremony is that you become a member of Cambridge University.

"Whether you are a Scottish member, a New Zealand member or an army one, you are all members of Cambridge University," he added.

The spokesman pointed out that several other universities shared the policy. He also said that religious dress did not come under the regulations.

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