After three years of painstaking study, graduation is meant to be your proudest moment where you can finally celebrate achieving a grade that you have worked so hard towards. A day where you can wear a gown and a funny hat that you will look back on with fondness. Yet for many, graduation is the most expensive day on the calendar and comes at a financially stressful time, where most graduates are trying to either break into the competitive job market or save up for further studies, whilst owing on average £44,000 in debt.
Whilst others may argue the ceremony is all in the name of tradition, arguably universities should help cover some of the costs, especially in light of the tripling tuition fees and threatening even more fee hikes in the future. These costs include gown hire ranging from £45 for Bachelor's degrees, rising costs for postgraduates, and photographs (which at the University of Bristol begin at the £40 'Standard Photo Pack') with the most gratuitous of which is a £150 'Canvas pack'. Not to mention the potentially astronomical cost of travelling to the ceremony.
Though there is at least hope for University of Bristol students, with unofficial graduation photos being taken at the student union at a cheaper rate, allowing more students to treat their grandparents to a cute graduation photograph, that will remain on their mantelpiece indefinitely. The unofficial event asserts that: "Every year the official graduation photographers offer a production line service that is both impersonal and expensive at best."
Similarly, alternative events have been taking place across the country with last year seeing students from the University of Sussex organising an alternative graduation ceremony altogether, fittingly named: "I DID SOMETHING BETTER with the £45 I would have spent on a graduation gown". This event attracted over 83 students, angered at the cost of paying £25 to attend their graduation and having to fork out for an expensive graduation dress.
But it is also the other added costs, often unaccounted for that bump up the price of the day, including guest tickets and accommodation for the night before if your graduation ceremony happens to fall in the morning. I luckily have two close friends staying on another year who are willing to let me and my family stay at theirs the night before, saving us over £110 in hotel fees. However, I know many who are not so fortunate.
A fellow University of Bristol student has raised concerns stating: "I have put on the form that I'm coming to graduation, but I still don't know that I definitely will due to the cost of hiring the gown and accommodation. I think it's unfair that we have to pay for the outfit and there is no provision for students who can't afford to stay in a hotel with their families the night before the ceremony."
Moreover, these costly prices further perpetuate the elitism of university life and actively exclude under-privileged students in the process. Some universities such as Glasgow, even charge their students if they cannot attend their ceremony.
This problem will continue to persist with the growing threat of future fee hikes, pushing more students into further debt and undoubtedly leading more students into reconsidering attending their graduation ceremony altogether.