The University of the West of Scotland (UWS) are facing calls from the National Union of Students to scrap graduation fees, as students across the country face the tough extra costs.
On top of the £9,250 a year that British students fork out to achieve a higher education many Universities include extra costs that bite students throughout their degree. Whether it be sports memberships, society subscriptions, fines or even just wanting a £22 University hoodie – it’s something students in all years deal with. For those in final year, it is the price of graduating that tops the list, and students are speaking out.
The Paisley based UWS is facing the calls from its students to reduce or get rid of the additional costs. As an institution, UWS has relatively large proportion of students from disadvantaged areas, 2,500 of whom have signed a petition. Reports of the ceremony costing up to £225 has left a large number of students struggling to find the funds.
Closer to home, gown rental at Newcastle University, which is compulsory in order to graduate, starts at £43 for the day. To buy the gown directly, students would have to pay at least £212. Although Newcastle University grants two free tickets for family to attend, any extras come at the cost of the student, with a seat in an auditorium to watch it being streamed will set guests back £10. Extra tickets for the actual ceremony in the Kings Hall are even more at £15 each.
Ally Wilson, final year English Literature student at Newcastle University, spoke to The Courier:
“Our whole education has now become quantified by how much we spend on it. Including our graduation.”
Although UWS’ students are writing the headlines with their petition today, it looks to be an issue facing undergraduates across the country.
The Students’ Association at UWS has reported having to give out more than £11,000 in emergency hardship payments this year, yet the University continues to extract money from its worst-off students. Whilst UWS has said it is “fully committee” to meaningful engagement on concerns brought up by students. A spokesman from the students’ association says:
“At the positive and productive meeting, it was agreed that the university would endeavour to identify strategies that would ultimately allow access to graduation for all students regardless of income.”
“In the meantime, a special graduation hardship fund is being created to support eligible students, effective for this summer’s graduation ceremonies.”
Indeed, it’s an issue that more and more students are having to deal with. Liam McCabe, President of NUS Scotland, added to the issue:
“Not only do many institutions – particular 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.”