Stop moaning about the cost of graduation

It’s your big day. You’ve spent three years at university, more than a decade in school and countless sleepless nights in the library. Are you really going to ruin it by quibbling over £35?

budget graduation money ucl

It’s your big day. You’ve spent three years at university – not to mention more than a decade in school – leading up to this moment. You’ve spent the sleepless nights in the library, scribbled your way through reams of lecture notes, and crucially passed every last one of your exams.

Are you really going to ruin it by quibbling over £35?

When the dates and details of our up-coming graduation ceremonies arrived in my inbox and the inboxes of the rest of my fellow finalists, the news was greeted by a collective squeal of excitement, and then an even loader groan about the cost. At first it sounds steep: £35 per ticket, per guest. And then the killer blow: £35 for the privilege to turn up to your own graduation.

But let’s have some perspective. £35 is nothing.

Wait a minute – I know that £35 goes a long way and is a considerable amount to fork out for a student, especially if you’re paying for your friends and family to come along. But it is nothing when compared with the amount you’ve spent on predrinks, on fast food or on freshers’ week fancy dress throughout your three years, surely?

It’s less than the price of a West End theatre ticket, and I’m sure your family will be more excited, more proud and have longer lasting memories sat in the audience of your graduation ceremony than in the stalls for We Will Rock You.

I concede that universities are too quick to allow companies to queue up and fleece students on graduation day; if you’re tempted by framed photos, a keepsake DVD of your big moment and woeful UCL-branded mementos then the cost will easily mount up. But these are by no means obligatory. It’s possible to celebrate on a budget.

When I joined UCL in 2010, students were shipped in from across the country to protest about the rise in tuition fees. I broadly agreed with them; young people should not be priced out of education on the ideological whim of an unwanted coalition. But when government cash for higher education is increasingly scarce, are these same students seriously going to argue that university coffers are better off emptied for graduation canapés and champagne rather than teaching staff and habitable classrooms?

We’ve got bigger fish to fry. If you’re worried about UCL being greedy with your cash, ask serious questions about £280 textbooks and the price of food on campus. And there’s an easy solution if you think £35 is too much for your graduation day: just don’t come.