De Montfort University (DMU) have launched a new Graduate Support Fund after lobbying from students and De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU)’s Officer Team.
The Fund, which will help ‘the most hard-pressed students at DMU’ with free tickets, free gown hire – or both – came about as a direct result of feedback from current students and two members of DSU’s Officer Team, both of whom have enjoyed their own ceremonies at the university’s purpose-built graduation venue.
Mike Mayes, VP Media and Communications at DSU, said: “We had a lot of students raising concerns about the cost of graduations, and so we acted on this.
“We organised a meeting with the university and heard feedback from four students [School Rep Coordinators Emma Charge, Lauren Clancy, Becky Knight and David Pilsworth] and have worked hard on this new initiative for those struggling most with bringing guests to their graduation.
“I think it is great that the university is offering this to students who need it the most. It feels great to know that we can get such a quick turnaround, too.
“This is a particularly stressful time of year for a lot of students and together, both at the students’ union and at the university, we knew something should happen quickly. I hope that this will reduce stress for students at an already hectic time of year.
“I would like to thank the students for bringing this to our attention.”
Last July, we profiled six different students who have done something unforgettable with DSU during their time at university. You can meet our 'DS-DOers' here.
Jo Cooke, DMU’s Associate Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of Student and Academic Services, said: “We recognise that sometimes students are unable to attend their graduation ceremony because they are unable to meet the costs of tickets for their guests and gown hire.
“We are therefore offering students who demonstrate the greatest need the opportunity to submit an application to receive either two guest tickets free, their gown hire for free, or both.
“The costs to DMU of holding the ceremonies are only partially met by the sale of tickets, but we are always mindful of the financial pressures on our students and last year we helped by reducing the price of tickets by nine per cent, even though we actually increased spending on our graduation ceremonies by 43 per cent.
“We are now going a step further by launching our Graduate Support Fund to ensure those who might have missed out in previous years are not denied the opportunity to celebrate their fantastic academic accomplishments.”
Students who receive a tuition fee loan, maintenance loan, maintenance grant, NHS bursary or have experienced other financial hardships are urged to apply to the Fund.
The ceremonies take place at TheVenue@DMU and now include a special Graduation Village where friends and family can gather to soak up the atmosphere. Ceremonies are live-streamed into the Village and across the campus.
Ahtesham Mahmood, VP Student Activities at DSU, said: “Your graduation is that ultimate celebratory event that acts as both a closing point to your studies and the beginning of the rest of your life as a successful DMU graduate.
“I don’t want to give too much away, but the event is amazing from start to finish, and the feelings you’ll have will live forever.
“I also think this Fund really demonstrates the healthy relationship between the university, the students’ union, and the student body. We have empowered students to raise their concerns and have pressed home the importance of having those who you hold most dear at your graduation.”
The July 2017 graduation ceremonies will take place between Saturday 15 and Saturday 22 July. You can see the full ceremony schedule here.
Students can apply for the Fund from Monday 10 April, before the deadline at 5pm on Friday 5 May. A panel will consider all the applications and then communicate their decision no later than Wednesday 17 May so that unsuccessful students will still have time to make arrangements before the university’s deadline for tickets on Monday 22 May.
You can find out more about the Graduate Support Fund, and find the application form, here.
Graduations take place at the university's purpose-built events venue alongside the River Soar on campus.