A petition was launched this morning demanding that the University of Glasgow abolishes and refunds all graduation fees to those graduating in 2018. It has already surpassed its target of 1000 signatures in just one afternoon, with 1135 signatures at the time of writing.
The petition was created by the Glasgow University Student-Staff Solidarity group who intend to submit the petition to the Student Experience committee who will make the final decision on whether to dismiss this year's graduation fees.
The letter reads: "The current graduation fees restrict the experience of graduating to only those who can afford it and for those who cannot, this becomes a choice of increasing their financial burden or forgoing their degree, which not only counteracts inclusiveness, but also actively fosters inequality.
"We appreciate that the University has decided to abolish the fees for the following term and that the subject is currently discussed by the Student Experience Committee. Yet, we want to highlight that such fees are not in place at other Scottish universities and the University of Glasgow cannot be the exception, especially as it runs contrary to its principles."
Earlier this week, the University announced that they were getting rid of the graduation fee for those graduating in 2019. However, many students claim that this is not enough and that the fee must be dismissed and refunded to students graduating this year who have already paid.
Students, including Fiona Ballantyne who originally raised the fee issue with Rector Aamer Anwar, cite the fee of the sole gown supplier as an unfair additional cost. The University of Glasgow has only one accepted gown supplier, which charges £42 for the one day gown hire. The University of Glasgow responded on Twitter: "Any student who is in financial hardship can approach us for assistance with the hire of a gown and this would be considered." The University's website however, states that the Hardship Fund cannot be used to cover graduation costs.
The student replied by pointing out that enrolment for graduation closes on 18 May, and it can take up to a week for financial hardship applications to be processed.
Rector Aamer Anwar stated: "I really welcome the fact that next year’s fees are abolished but how long does it take to tell students worrying about cost that this year’s are also abolished. As for gown hire, why should students who can’t afford the cost be told one week before enrolment closes to apply to a hardship fund.
"As for withheld strike wages I understand to be in the region of nearly three quarters of a million pounds, the University shouldn’t be using that. They should as a point of principle abolish all costs for graduation. I love the tradition and ceremony but not if it means students missing out because one company controls the extortionate hire of a gown for a few hours.
"I back the petition and hope the student experience committee take a tough stand and demand that all fees are abolished."
A spokesperson for the University of Glasgow said: “The University of Glasgow has already taken the decision to abolish the £50 graduation fee from 2019/20 and the student experience committee is currently looking at bringing this forward to this year – 2018/19. We shall be in a position to make an announcement on this in the near future. Gown hire is provided by an external company and it is up to individual students whether they choose to pay for this cost.”