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In virus boon, Belgian students graduate at UNESCO site

September 30, 2020 GMT
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Engineering graduates of the Universite Libre De Bruxelles, cheer after a graduation ceremony at the Grand Place in Brussels, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Many of these students were supposed to graduate in June, but with exams cancelled and COVID-19 regulations in place many students were unable to manage that in time. Pandemic restrictions limited the guest invitations to only 2 persons for each graduate. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
1 of 9
Engineering graduates of the Universite Libre De Bruxelles, cheer after a graduation ceremony at the Grand Place in Brussels, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Many of these students were supposed to graduate in June, but with exams cancelled and COVID-19 regulations in place many students were unable to manage that in time. Pandemic restrictions limited the guest invitations to only 2 persons for each graduate. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

BRUSSELS (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic has put a massive damper on student life across the globe. But in Brussels it has one boon: graduation at a UNESCO Word Heritage location.

The Belgian capital has made its world-famous Grand-Place square available as an open-air location for nearly 4,000 students from two Brussels universities for the academic ceremony.

On Wednesday, graduates marched across the 1st-floor balcony of the Gothic city hall as their names were announced. Pandemic restrictions limited guest invitations to only two per graduate.

Masters of Engineering graduate Saskia Lebegge said it was a happy conclusion to “a never-ending circle of getting up, opening and closing our computers and going back to sleep while wearing the same sweater for weeks.”

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With the U2 song “Beautiful Day” playing in the background, students stood proudly together on the podium in front of the crowd.

There are multiple ceremonies being held throughout the week to spread out the crowds. Each is limited to about 200 graduates.

Many of these students were supposed to graduate in June, but with exams cancelled and COVID-19 regulations in place not all could manage that in time.

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