In 2016, an International student expressed to me that they weren't able to attend their graduation ceremony in October 2016 because their Visa would have expired and they just couldn't afford to come back over to the UK after leaving in the Summer.
This rang an alarm bell for me, so in October 2016 I submitted an idea on our website to get a feel of whether students would like to have graduation ceremonies in the Summer and in October.
"I am asking students' if they would like the university to hold graduation ceremonies in the summer for those who finish around May time. It is proposed that the October ceremonies still take place for those who may have to re-sit and those who finish their course around August."
The idea can be found here, along with number of likes and comments: https://www.angliastudent.com/represent/ideas/?idea=511#idea511
Due to the number of likes and supporting comments, I proceded to investigate whether this could be possible.
I had a series of meetings with Iain Martin the Vice Chancellor to float the idea. In principle, he liked the idea, but expressed that practically it would be very difficult due to our multicampus university. We would not only be doubling ceremonies for one campus, but for all 3, which would be an immense amount of work! Iain suggested that I have a conversation with the staff team who work on the ground, organising the ceremonies, to understand the logistics and practicalities. Below is the outcome of the meeting:
Timings of ceremonies:
- There are 6 awards boards per year, recently condensed down from approx. 11. The last of these is in July. Which would mean the ‘summer’ ceremony would need to take place in August.
- Nursing courses (with a cohort of approx.. 400 students) complete in September.
- Re-assessments are in in August, which would isolate these students.
- Currently it is impractical to have ‘summer’ ceremonies because there is no time of year in that bracket that will suit the entire student body The current ceremonies in October do suit everyone, albeit it isn’t the most desirable to everyone, particularly international students whose Visas run out beforehand.
- There are future opportunities to continue to talk about this.
- My recommendation would be to keep this on the SU’s radar (as long as students’ still want us to) until there is a reasonable solution.
Precious (Activities Officer Essex) also submitted an idea on our website questioning the price of the guest tickets. She stated:
"Graduating students should have their guests come for their graduation ceremony without paying 25 pounds each for their seats. For example the 3 guests seats should be free but if the graduating student want more guests then the student will pay for the extra guest"
The idea, along with likes and comments, can be found here: https://www.angliastudent.com/represent/ideas/?idea=541#idea541
We decided to tie these conversations in with those around the timings of ceremonies, below is a summary:
Guest ticket fee;
- The price of the standard graduation guest ticket is £25. This has remained the same for the past 6 years.
- Graduation team colleagues claim to research other institutions and they have found that ARU is in line, if not slightly cheaper than others’ fees.
- They are constantly looking into how they can make the event better value for money, as they have received informal feedback to say that currently it is not. Keep eyes peeled for new things introduced this year.
- For the first time, this year they are actively gathering feedback from students and guests after 2017’s ceremonies have taken place. I endorsed this as this data can be used to actively plan the following years ceremonies, responding directly to student feedback.
- They expressed that they currently don’t make any profit on the event through the guest ticket fee. This year they will not be able to reduce the price of the guest ticket but they are making improvements to ensure the event is better value for money.
If you would like to have more information on anything regarding graduations, please contact the graduation team directly: firstname.lastname@example.org