In new data aggregated by The Print, it has been revealed that Queen Mary is one of four Russell Group universities who charge guests of graduands to attend the ceremony.
Despite graduand tickets being free, guests are charged £25 per person and tickets are initially limited to two – with £5 tickets to the live relay room also available.
Other Russell Group universities who charge guests are Imperial College London (£25), King’s College London (£27), and University College London (£45).
Queen’s University Belfast technically do not charge for guest tickets. However, they are the only Russell Group university to charge the students to attend. The fee for the majority of QUB students is £47.
London-based Russell Group universities may attempt to justify their pricing by hosting graduation ceremonies at the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall. However, Queen Mary graduation ceremonies takes place in the People’s Palace on the Mile End campus.
The Print reached out to Queen Mary’s Events and Ceremonies Team, asking why Queen Mary charges for graduation guests when most universities do not, and whether they believe it to be good value for money. They responded:
Each year we work to improve graduates’ and their guests’ experiences, based on feedback. Some of the changes we have made include:
- Last summer we increased the food and drink offering while keeping the cost to guests fixed. This included a switch from a traditional finger-food reception in the Octagon, to Food Festival in Graduate Centre Square, which meant that guests were able to get a full meal from one of nine different street-food stalls, as well as a drink (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and complimentary tea/coffee, cakes, and ice lollies.
- Last summer we reduced the price of Live Relay tickets from £15 to £5.
- Last summer we have revised the child policy of Live Relay tickets so a £5 ticket covers one adult and up to two children 15 years or under (previously the age limit for children was 5 years or under).
- This summer we are adding a drinks voucher to the Live Relay ticket without increasing its price.
The Events and Ceremonies Team added: “Guest tickets include entry to the ceremony in the Great Hall, a souvenir ceremony programme, and a food and drink voucher for the ‘street food festival’ reception.” However, entrance to the ceremony, a souvenir programme and drinks reception is the standard offering from almost all universities – most of which do not charge for guests. Note, not all universities include a complimentary drink and food at the reception though, like Queen Mary does.
One Queen Mary student graduating this summer lamented: “Graduation is like paying an entry fee for a marathon and then having to pay for your own medal at the end.”
Queen Mary offer free tickets for dedicated carers of family and friends with special requirements. Furthermore, a graduation fund has been set up to assist students from lower income backgrounds with the cost of graduation. The fund covers the cost of graduation robes and hats. Students who are parents, carers, and those who have run into financial hardship are encouraged to apply. https://www.qmsu.org/graduationfund/
Image – Queen Mary University of London