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'A Massive Oversight': Students slam lack of graduation transport

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

University criticised for not offering transportation to P&J Live.

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

updated 30 June

Courtesy of Anttoni James Numminen

Nearly five thousand Aberdeen students will gather at P&J Live during the first week of July for graduation ceremonies, as well as belated celebrations cancelled by COVID-19. None of these students, however, will travel to the popular Aberdeen events centre via transportation organised by the University.

Despite the decision to move graduations away from the University’s Old Aberdeen campus to the P&J, which is over five miles away from Aberdeen City Centre, the University confirmed to The Gaudie that it had declined to organise transportation for graduating students.

When asked why the University decided not to organise transportation, a spokesperson stated, ‘Accessibility for all was an important factor in our choice of location. P&J Live not only offers enhanced transportation links for attendees travelling by air or rail but as the major events venue for Aberdeen it is well serviced by both Stagecoach and First, with buses running every 10 minutes from the city centre.’

Carolijn van der Putten, a graduating Politics and Sociology student, told The Gaudie that the University neglected to consider the issues international students and their families (who are more likely not to have access to a car in Aberdeen) might face in travelling to the P&J via public transportation.

She said, ‘I am assuming the university forgot about international students and assumed everyone could simply drive there… I don’t think anyone wants to take the bus to their graduation in their nicest clothes, it takes [away] from the experience but more importantly adds a lot of stress due to the unreliability as well as family who have never taken buses here before…’

A University spokesperson denied this claim in a statement, commenting, ‘We expect our students to arrive by a range of transportation methods. P&J Live was selected as the venue for graduations because of its excellent transport links. For students and their families arriving by air, the venue is adjacent to Aberdeen International Airport and can be accessed either on foot, by a very regular bus service which operates 24 hours a day with services up to every 10 minutes, or has a dedicated taxi rank. Information about this can be found on the P&J Live website and links to this were provided in all of our graduation material.'

Rune Cherednikov, a graduating History student, also expressed concern with the University’s decision. They said, ‘The lack of arranged transport, aside from the slight financial trouble, really shows a lack of respect for the students’ comfort, which is the most upsetting factor to me. Graduation is supposed to be a happy, cheerful, exciting event, but these circumstances are turning it into an extremely stressful one.’

Cherednikov continued, saying, ‘I would understand if we were actually still in the middle of the pandemic, but the restrictions have been lifted entirely at this point, so I just do not understand the need to hold the event at P&J. Elphinstone Hall is big enough for a refreshers fair, live on the lawn events and balls, but is not big enough for graduation?’

Van der Putten further commented, ‘I don’t understand how the university can expect us all to get there by public transport… that is a massive oversight on their part in [regard] to the capabilities of First Bus and Stagecoach. This is already a stressful time for many people

having lots of family visiting while moving away and this has made everything even worse.’

When asked to respond to complaints that the Graduation team did not properly inform students that it was not arranging transportation to P&J Live, a University spokesperson told The Gaudie, ‘Information sent to graduating students contained details of transport links to P&J Live only… Our Graduations website and information sent to graduating students states P&J Live as the venue for the ceremonies.’

This response corroborates The Gaudie's conversations with students in which they allege that they were not explicitly told that transportation would not be organised. Upon learning the truth, students were further confused due to a survey AUSA ran in January which led them to believe transportation would be arranged.

AUSA VP for Sport Adam Lambert told The Gaudie that he polled students at the second term Freshers Fayre and asked if they preferred graduation on campus or at P&J Live. At the time, 50% of students wanted to graduate on campus, with only 30% preferring the P&J.

Lambert told The Gaudie that in light of complaints from students following the Winter Graduations, he informed students that AUSA was pushing for the University to organise transportation to and from the ceremonies, and also to organise a drop off zone for students to leave their gowns on campus after taking photos. Neither of these proposals were adopted by the University.

Responding to a request for comment, outgoing AUSA president Alisa Koester expressed disappointment with the University’s decision. She said, ‘Having raised the issue of transportation with the University previously on multiple occasions throughout the year, we are disappointed that they were unable to find a solution to this problem. This will leave many students disappointed that they may miss out on getting graduation photos with their friends and loved ones on our beautiful, historic campus.’

Graduations will be held at P&J Live from 4 to 8 July. Thousands of students and guests are expected to attend.


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