University apologises as students miss out on ‘graduation celebration’

University chiefs have apologised after students missed out on an outdoor graduation ceremony when all the tickets were snapped up within minutes.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 12:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th June 2021, 6:10 pm
The university has been inundated with complaints
The university has been inundated with complaints

Students of Queen Margaret University and their families have expressed dismay and anger over the university’s ‘Graduation Celebration’, as only a very limited number of students have been able to secure tickets. Unlike most universities, QMU offered an in-person outdoor event, split up over four days, for students who graduated in 2020 or 2021, but places are extremely limited and no alternative is being offered to students who miss out.

Queen Margaret University’s Facebook page received hundreds of angry comments from students and their parents, many of them arguing that a graduation celebration should be offered to every student or not at all.

One mother of a QMU graduate from the Republic of Ireland, was upset because she made non refundable travel plans to attend the celebrations, only to miss out on tickets: “We had three separate people trying for tickets but they were gone within two or three minutes. Between flights and hotels and COVID tests, we’ve spent 894 euros.”

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She added: “I’m very disappointed for my daughter.

“She worked the whole way through the pandemic in a medical setting. A lot of that was for free because you do not get paid for placements.”

Students who miss out on tickets are not able to rent a gown, and there is no live streamed event, only a pre-recorded video of speeches from the Principal and the Chancellor. For those who did book tickets, there was no way of coordinating going to the event on the same days as friends or classmates.

The Principal Sir Paul Grice issued a statement saying: “I would like to express my sincere apologies...for the stress caused by the issues arising from the graduation celebration booking system.”

He explained that there would be another opportunity to book later in the week with some more spaces but "while we fully anticipate that we will be able to find spaces for many more of you, unfortunately there is still the possibility that not everyone will get a place”.

A QMU spokesperson added: “While many universities are not having any kind of in-person graduation celebration for their students this year, we wanted to organise something for our graduates to mark this important achievement in their lives, whilst acknowledging from the outset that we were working within limitations due to the current Covid guidelines. As we have communicated to students over a number of weeks and routes, the celebration on campus is a scaled-down event rather than our usual full ceremony at the Usher Hall, and has an attendance limit. This is an unfortunate reality relating to the requirement for us to run an event which adheres to the necessary government safety and social distancing measures.

“We are saddened that students have faced difficulties with the booking system and understand the frustration this has caused in addition to the capacity restrictions that we are operating under. We are now in a position to offer more availability to students, and, with the support of the Students’ Union, a clear process for arranging this has been agreed and communicated to students.”