University graduations: Student willingness to pay?

Rahul Mancin was scheduled to receive his Music Performance degree at Queen’s University Belfast in July 2020, crossing the stage at Whitla Hall.

Due to the first Covid-19 lockdown, Rahul Mancin found himself graduating from the comfort of his living room. Alongside his housemates, he watched a YouTube livestream to celebrate the occasion.

The pandemic had put an end to in-person graduation ceremonies. However, in December 2021, the university organized a series of “graduation celebration events” specifically for students who had missed out on their ceremonies.

Initially, Rahul was excited about the second opportunity to attend the graduation celebration. However, considering the high expenses he had already incurred during his three years of education, he ultimately chose not to attend, bothered by the additional cost associated with the event.

“We missed out on numerous lessons due to teacher strikes and the pandemic, yet we were still expected to pay the same tuition fees,” he expressed.

“It felt rather insulting, as if salt was being rubbed into the wound.”

In terms of graduation costs, there are varying approaches among universities across the UK. However, both Queen’s University and Ulster University in Northern Ireland require students to pay in order to attend their graduation ceremonies.

The president of the National Union of Students Union of Students in Ireland (NUS USI) has demanded the elimination of graduation fees, accusing universities of engaging in excessive profit-seeking practices.

“The current education system is heavily focused on profit rather than prioritizing the student experience,” stated Ellen Fearon.

“Graduation has become yet another means for universities to generate revenue.”

“After dedicating years of hard work towards obtaining a degree, graduation should serve as a rewarding moment and an opportunity to celebrate with friends,” emphasized Ellen Fearon.

“However, instead of being a joyous occasion, it burdens students with yet another significant expense in addition to the existing debt they carry.”

The cost of graduation varies across the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Newcastle University offers students the privilege of receiving tickets, gown hire, and a photo of their stage walk during graduation at no cost.

University College London offers free registration for graduation. However, guest tickets are priced at £35 each, and students are responsible for hiring gowns from an external company.

For students at Oxford, Cambridge, and York Universities, the only expenses associated with graduation are the external gown hire fees, which range from £25 to £75.

Likewise, at Glasgow and Cardiff University, along with the majority of universities in the Republic of Ireland, the only costs incurred for graduation are related to external gown hire.



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By Ryan

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