Students from the University of Bristol have started a petition to change the date of their graduation, after they were informed that the ceremony for this year’s graduates will be taking place in November.
The main issue outlined is the impact this graduation date has on international students, many of whom are on student visas (also known as the Tier 4 visa). That means they would be unable to attend the ceremony. However, students from the UK have also criticised the graduation dates as they may be in a job or studying elsewhere in November, making them unable to attend.
At the time of writing, the petition has 684 signatures. It explains that the decision by the university to hold the ceremonies in November is ‘massively impractical and increases travel costs, particularly for international students.’
It also states that, by November, ‘most students will have moved out of Bristol and will be working full-time jobs or have started post-graduate courses.’ This therefore makes it ‘so much more difficult to actually get to Bristol mid-week just for one ceremony.’
Anonymous confessions page for Bristol university students ‘Bristruths’ has also received an influx of posts from frustrated students set to graduate this year. One post, which has gathered 499 likes at the time of writing, reads:
‘Nearly all International students study in the UK under a Tier 4 visa which expires on 30th October 2022. This means we are legally not allowed to be in this country beyond this date […] Do you see how ridiculous this is. They chose to hold our graduation 2 weeks after our visas are invalid. WE AREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE HERE ANYMORE. And don’t any of you dare tell us to travel home and back again unless YOU are personally willing to pay for my £800 flight. If they had the graduation just 2 weeks earlier we literally wouldn’t have this insane problem.’
Another post states: ‘Having the graduation in November may not be much of a bother to you but, as expressed by a number of international students, it is to us. It may not be a major inconvenience to a majority of students who live or plan to stay on in the UK but we are asking you to think about us who are being neglected here. Please stand with us and voice our disappointment with us. Only then will the university take it seriously.’
A spokesperson from the University of Bristol told us:
‘We know how important it is to get this right for our whole university community and were actively looking at options to host ceremonies at other venues in the city due to the high numbers of students who are eligible to graduate. However, what was made really clear was how important a graduation in the iconic Wills Memorial Building was for our students, their families and supporters.’
They explained that organising and facilitating ceremonies for around 18,000 in this space ‘has been challenging’ and the dates in April, July and November ‘were the best and in some cases only options available’ without adding ‘yet more delays.’
‘We fully appreciate that holding ceremonies in November will present some of our international students with difficulties in terms of travel and visas and are working with colleagues from the Students’ Union to see what additional support and advice we can offer,’ they added.