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  • Writer's pictureThe Gaudie

Graduations Back on Campus for Summer 2024

"Huge Victory" for Students as Ceremonies Leave P&J Live


By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco




Graduations will return to the King’s College Campus this summer. In a repudiation of senior management, the University Senate voted for the ceremonies to come home to Old Aberdeen for the first time since 2019.


For the last two years, graduations had been held at events complex P&J Live (aka TECA)- over four miles away from campus.


Students repeatedly raised concerns about the distance of the venue from Old Aberdeen and its lack of connection to the University.


The location of the ceremonies was a key feature of an 8 November Senate meeting, in which University management pressed the need for senators to make a decision.


“I need to articulate that there would be risk in deferring a decision,” said University Secretary Tracey Slaven.


“This was a very late item and question to bring to Senate and it is at the point at which a contract should be signed a week ago. There are other institutions and individuals who are keen to take those dates,” she added.


A snap poll released by The Gaudie fifteen minutes prior to the beginning of the meeting found that nearly 9 in 10 students wanted ceremonies to return to King’s College. 


Blasting the venue as “soulless and disconnected”, 86.4% of respondents preferred a campus graduation over one at TECA.

One student told The Gaudie: “Graduation should be held on campus. Most of us have never been to P&J and its atmosphere is impersonal. Not to mention that it's expensive and difficult to travel to.”

Another added: “I can't imagine graduating elsewhere. It makes no sense to me. The university has been where my journey took place and the campus is so beautiful.”


During Wednesday’s proceedings, a number of students and staff spoke passionately about the graduations and why they should return to campus.


Reader in Art History Dr Joanne Anderson, who graduated in Marischal College’s Mitchell Hall, indignantly asked: “Why are we handing money over to the external company rather than investing the money back in the University?”


Similarly, theology chair Professor Joachim Schaper added:


“We’ve discussed this from all conceivable angles… this is a thing where emotion actually counts.”

“We can discuss this back and forth, but there is this point, you should have your University graduation on your campus and guests shouldnt be charged. Isn’t that obvious?”


UoA Principal George Boyne remained unconvinced, telling senators: “If we had a very large, entirely accessible venue in Old Aberdeen, this would be a straightforward decision.”


Despite the lack of any student consultation, Professor Boyne downplayed our poll, quipping that a survey of 150 students couldn’t be taken as representative of the University’s twenty thousand students.

In the end, it seems that senators agreed with those cited, voting 77-22 (with 12 abstentions) for graduations to be held on campus. 


In a statement, a University spokesperson said: “Members of the University Senate voted for a return to hosting graduation ceremonies on campus in 2024.

 

"Further planning will now be required to work out the delivery of the ceremonies. Options include the use of Elphinstone Hall with ceremonies running over additional days and the use of a marquee to increase the available capacity.”


Local political figures have weighed in on the decision: 

Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart (SNP) told Aberdeen Live: “I’m delighted to see that the University of Aberdeen senate has voted overwhelmingly for graduation ceremonies to return to its historic campus in Old Aberdeen.


“I’ve expressed my concerns about graduations being held away from the campus on a number of occasions, including last year, when I urged Principal Boyne to reconsider plans to make the move permanent.


“I know only too well the strength of feeling there was amongst the student body to allow graduations to return to the iconic campus, where they have spent so much of their student life working hard to achieve success.

“This decision is a huge victory for students, and I look forward to seeing the ceremonies return to their rightful home.”

Similarly, Labour Councillor for Old Aberdeen, Ross Grant, reacted to the news on X.


Excellent news,” he tweeted. “The right decision so kudos to students and the decision makers. Campus graduations aren’t perfect but they are considerably better overall.”


Exact plans for the graduations have yet to be ironed out, but early indications suggest that use of Elphinstone Hall and a marquee on King’s Pitches could be in the works.


Plans to charge the guests of graduates for admission to the ceremonies appear to be going ahead, although it is unclear if the cost will be adjusted to account for the on-campus venue.


Graduations planned for the end of this month at TECA will be unaffected by the change.

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