So you’ve spent years studying for your degree, sacrificed a ton of money on tuition fees and now you’re ready to graduate. The only thing stopping you is the cost of attending your own graduation ceremony at the end of it all.
This is the fate for many students studying at Glasgow University, who currently have to pay £50 (US$68) to attend their graduation ceremony. Add accommodation in Glasgow, flights from your home country, graduation robes and the all-important smart outfit for your new profile picture to the bill, and it quickly becomes extortionate.
Students in Scotland are currently protesting this fee, and have received support from university staff and National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland.
£50 to graduate from Glasgow Uni and if I want to go to the ceremony, that’s £42 as well for gown hire. Guess I won’t be graduating then. I’d also like to point out that Edinburgh Uni have no fee. @AamerAnwar Perhaps our rector could look at scrapping the fee.
— Fiona (@starbug09) May 1, 2018
The costs reportedly cover a graduation certificate, a programme of the day’s events and membership to an alumni society.
“It is really sad that after studying so hard our students should not be able to graduate because of the cost,” Aamer Anwar, the university rector responded.
He added: “Most students dream of the day they will graduate, despite all the struggles they have faced along the way. To then find out that you can’t graduate because of the cost really is a kick in the teeth.
“Graduation day is supposed to be about celebration and not treating students as a cash cow.
“As for the gown company, who are a private firm, we need to have a look at why they need to charge so much for only a few hours hire.”
While it is not essential to attend the graduation ceremony to graduate, the day is an important rite of passage for many students, especially those who have moved away from their friends and family, as well as paid high international students fees to gain a degree from the University of Glasgow.
A spokeswoman for Glasgow University said officials had already decided to abolish graduation fees in future years, with a student committee currently looking at bringing it forward to the current year.
She added: “We shall be in a position to make an announcement on this in the near future. Gown hire is provided by an external company and it is up to individual students whether they choose to pay for this cost.”
Opposers of the fee have criticised the university for not scrapping the graduation fee sooner. Although domestic students do not pay for university education, international students have parted with large sums for their education.
The concerns were backed by Jodie Waite, vice president of NUS Scotland, who said: “After years of hard work and mounting student debt, graduation should be the big payoff, not the big pay-out, and every university should follow the lead of those who’ve already scrapped graduation charges.
“As the Scottish education sector strives to widen access to higher education, it can’t be right that graduation is based on the ability to pay.
“Whether that’s ensuring students have financial support to remain in education or overcoming the financial barriers they might face in graduating, graduation must be accessible to every student.”