After months of research, surveys, proposals and hard work. Thanks to Lydia Turner - a 3rd year Politics student, Student Champion and Course Representative for Politics - students will benefit from improved graduation funding for final year students.
Along with assistance from De Montfort Students' Union (DSU)'s DP of Education, Mollie Footitt, Lydia has successfully lobbied for changes to The Graduate Support Fund and the freezing of graduation fees.
The Graduate Support Fund was officially launched by De Montfort University (DMU) in 2017 following lobbying by the DSU Officer Team. The Fund, which aims to 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 DMU students and two members of DSU’s Officer Team.
Lydia’s own research added to this feedback and showed that many students and their guests were unable to attend graduation due to graduation costs including international travel, robe hire, and tickets.
Lydia added, “From being actively involved in both the university and students’ union, the hidden cost of graduation was something that was brought to my attention by many students.
As someone who came from a low-income family, and studies politics, it is my perception that higher education should be accessible to all - graduation included.”
The Graduation Support Fund can help DMU students with the costs of graduation. Find out more about The Graduation Support Fund here.
In October 2018 Lydia brought a policy to DSU Council regarding DSU lobbying DMU about the cost of guest tickets at graduation. Lydia felt that they should be free for two guests due to the additional costs students have to pay to graduate. Mollie was mandated to help her in this process.
DMU students were surveyed from first years to recent DMU graduates to produce a paper that was presented to Jo Cooke, Director of Student and Academic Services and Jon Lees, Deputy Director of SaAS and oversees graduations.
Lydia further explained, “I conducted research into past and present student perceptions of the cost of graduation, the ceremonies other universities provide and whether it was financially viable to remove the cost of graduation tickets.
I am grateful that the university took the time to recognise this and was pleased when they said they will definitely act on the report.”
After meeting with Jo and Jon on several occasions, the report produced the following outcomes:
- The graduate support fund will be publicised better and the amount within the fund will be doubled and rolled out to help post-graduate students graduating, not just undergraduates.
- Ticket prices will be held at the same amount for the next three years, they will not increase, even if the HE review means that universities will need to cut back costs/make more money in areas.
- The Graduation Panel is currently in discussions with other universities who offer free tickets to children at graduations due to the practical challenges that this could incur.
Find out more about the De Montfort University (DMU) 2019 graduations here.
Lydia said, “The outcome, though a compromise, is reassuring for all current students not only that the cost of their graduation will not change but that student voices are heard and acted on.
I hope that the newly elected officer team will continue to work on the mandate and see it through.”
Read Lydia's full report here.
Students can apply for the Graduation Support Fund until the the deadline at 5pm on Monday 20 May. A panel will consider all the applications and then communicate their decision no later than Friday 7 June 2019. Find out more about how to apply here.
Graduations at DMU will take place between Friday 12 and Saturday 20 July 2019. You can see the full ceremony schedule here.