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UoA spent £300,000 on 2023 Summer Graduation

Cost of graduation has increased by 70% since 2019

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

UoA Principal George Boyne presides over one of the week's graduation ceremonies.

Photo Credit: University of Aberdeen

The University of Aberdeen spent nearly 300,000 pounds on Summer Graduation ceremonies, a Gaudie investigation has revealed.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by The Gaudie revealed that the University had spent at least £296,640 on this summer’s events- an increase of 70% since 2019.

However, the figures were lower than last year, when the University spent nearly half a million pounds on the ceremonies and an accompanying reception for COVID-era graduates and their families.

In 2022, the University paid SMG Europe Holdings, the owners of P & J Live, £410,000 for the use of the events complex.

Approximately 16,000 students and guests attended the ceremonies in 2022.

This summer, the University paid out £288,638 to SMG Europe, a fee which included the use of event space, security costs, and reception catering.

An additional £8,000 was spent on decorations and transportation costs.

By contrast, at the last graduation ceremonies prior to COVID in 2019, the University spent just £174,293.

Held in marquees on King’s Pitches, those graduations saw the University pay £59,380 for the rental of the tents, with an additional £100,000 spent on broadcasting services and event management.

In all, the University spent £122,000 more this summer than in 2019, an increase of over 70%.

With an estimated 8,000 tickets given out, the University spent an average of £37 pounds per attendee (exact numbers couldn't be confirmed by the University, as some extra tickets were given out on the day)

In 2019, when approximately 10,000 people attended, the University spent an average of £17 per attendee.

Some staff and students have questioned if the graduations should continue to be held at P & J Live, pointing to increased costs amid the University's financial deficit, which recently led to a recruitment freeze.

A spokesperson for Aberdeen UCU called on the University to engage in a 'reset of priorities.'

He commented: 'AUCU is disappointed, but not surprised, that so much money was spent hiring a venue so far from campus when we have beautiful and iconic venues of our own which lie empty. We call for a reset of priorities. Instead of planning campaigns of pain, it would be so much better if the University invested resources in people.'

'For example, this sum would pay for an over-the-summer extension of part-time contracts for student teaching assistants giving them a sense of security. Instead, in the very same week, staff have to absorb a 20% increase in car parking fees when their salaries are increased by 5%.'

However, University managers have lauded feedback from the ceremonies as ‘extremely positive.’

Duncan Stuart, the University’s Assistant Director and Head of Experience for Engagement and Wellbeing told The Gaudie:

‘Graduation is a fantastic celebration of the hard work and success of our students as they mark the end of their time with us and prepare to embark on their future careers. We are hugely conscious of the importance of the experience to our graduates and their families and are pleased to have had extremely positive feedback from the vast majority of those who attended this summer’s event.’


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