The hidden cost of graduations revealed

3 mins read
Credit: University of Stirling

Students graduating from Scotland’s colleges and universities in winter could face extra costs of over £200, the National Union of Students has revealed.

This information was a result of several Freedom of Information requests that were sent to every college and university in Scotland.

They found that 70% of universities and 16% of colleges operate additional costs for graduation, with every university in Scotland requiring costs such as library fines to be paid in full before a student will be allowed to graduate.

Academic dress and graduation robes are often mandatory and incur additional costs for students to hire the robes. Robe hire can cost graduation students anything between £80 to £225. NUS also revealed that some universities and colleges can receive a commission on each set of robes hired for the ceremony.

Liam McCabe, the President of NUS Scotland has described the charges as a “stealth tax” on the success of students and has condemned the costs.

“A student’s graduation should be one of the most memorable days of their life as they celebrate their hard-earned achievements.

“However, NUS Scotland’s FOI has revealed many institutions are putting a price on success through disgraceful graduation fees, effectively taxing students by stealth.

“Not only do many institutions – particularly universities – demand payment to graduate in the first place, they also require their students to hire and wear expensive academic robes from third party providers. Stunningly, some institutions even get a kick back on these transactions, receiving commission from the involved companies.

“We would appeal to all institutions across the country to reflect on their graduation fee policies and the impact they have on their least affluent students. Institutions must ensure that, in future, their graduations are free and accessible to all those who have earned the right to celebrate their academic successes.”

A University spokesperson said: “Graduations are an important rite of passage and our relatively modest graduation ceremony fees allow us to provide a high-quality, memorable experience for our students and their loved ones. Where appropriate, students can apply for support with fees through our discretionary fund; there is no charge for those graduating in absentia; and we provide a free, live online streaming service for those who wish to watch the ceremony remotely.”

The union’s Vice President of Education, Daniel Wright, commented saying;

‘The FOI by NUS Scotland is telling of the similar situation faced by students across the majority of the Universities in Scotland surrounding their graduation. As both a celebration of a phenomenal achievement, and an ending of a unique and life-changing experience studying and taking advantage of many opportunities available to students, graduation should be accessible to all regardless of circumstance. Graduation free from unnecessary costs is certainly something that should be strived towards by all Universities so that graduates can enjoy their celebration without financial worry in the back of their minds.’

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Freelance award-winning journalist | Best Journalist SPARC Scotland 2021 | Stirling Uni Class of 2021 | Former Deputy Editor - Brig Newspaper | Bylines in The Scottish Sun, The Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser, The Barrhead News, The (Renfrew and Johnstone) Gazette, Brig Newspaper, The Oban Times, Stirling Today and Tales From Lockdown.

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