Aberdeen University to Charge for Graduation Tickets, Will Strathclyde be Next?

By Omar Malik (He/Him)

The University of Aberdeen is to introduce a fee for students’ families to attend graduations.

The choice has generated a lot of concern and divisive opinions regarding what this means for the future of other Scottish universities.

The university has claimed that the rapid growth of graduations, due to an annual increase in university admissions, has rendered them unable to cover the financial efforts of the ceremonies. Until recently, students could choose up to two loved ones free of charge to attend the ceremony. Now, each ticket will cost £13.50.

This isn’t the first time the historic university has come under scrutiny for graduation fees. In 2019, the tradition of students paying £45 to graduate, and £10 if they cannot attend, was scrapped following backlash.

There has been confusion around the implementation of ticket fees as in 2019, Principal Professor George Boyne said he was “delighted” with the reversal of graduation fees.

Students are faced with immense financial burdens from rent to travel costs. Thus, no longer being faced with additional fees to graduate was a significant step towards fairness. This sudden reversal of values, within the space of three years, is bewildering to many.

In Scotland, students are choosing higher education at a rapidly increasing rate. So much so that UCAS projected in 2022 that by 2026, there could be one million Scottish undergraduate applicants. According to UCAS, this would be an increase of 27% compared to 2021’s applicants.

Perhaps, then, Aberdeen’s seemingly sudden decision to charge loved ones to attend ceremonies is justifiable. Funding graduation ceremonies may become unsustainable as the large number of admissions continue.

There are some worrying parallels between the University of Aberdeen’s situation and Strathclyde’s. Following widespread student outrage in 2019, Strathclyde also ceased charging graduates to attend their ceremonies. While the cost to attend was not as high as Aberdeen’s, graduates of Strathclyde had to pay a substantial £20 if they couldn’t attend.

The national increase in admissions rates sets a potentially unfortunate future for students at Strathclyde. In the current climate, universities ought to consider the financial wellbeing of their students, who must prioritise their fees and living expenses before they can even consider paying additional graduation costs.