"Sponsion" bedeutet in Österreich die Verleihung eines akademischen Grades (Universität oder FH) von Bachelor, Diplom, Master, Magister (vom Lat. "sponsio" (Gelöbnis), d.h. das Versprechen, sich so zu verhalten, wie es die akademische Ausbildung gebietet.)
Thanks Yama for alternative - would you say this is more American usage? We tend more to use "Graduation" in the UK. As well as being useful to me as a translator, I think it's a good point to have British/American English alternatives in the fourm.
I found another link: http://www.answers.com/topic/commencement: Commencement is, following this line of thought, a kind of inauguration - the culmination of studies which marks the beginning of life as a graduate?
Cheers and happy commencement / graduation Ponshobbit