What was the £25 graduation ticket price spent on?

I had a wonderful morning with my son and other family members at the FCES graduation event (yesterday). The weather was wonderful and the venue idyllic. However, my expectations were not met when it came to the refreshments –in fact, I was quite disappointed. I would like to ask what I received for my £25 ticket fee for the Graduation event. It certainly wasn’t food. I wonder if Exec can identify what the fee was actually spent on?


Following the ceremonies held at the Trentham Estate in 2012 the University reviewed the location and pricing for its graduation ceremonies with particular concern as to how we manage large numbers of guests in inclement weather. Equally the cost of the graduation ceremonies and the fairness of the previous ticket pricing was raised.
A number of alternative venues were considered for future ceremonies, however, following a feasibility study and consultation with the Students’ Union it was agreed that the previous venue at the Trentham Estate offered by far the better overall experience for our graduating students and their families.
In 2012 all students were charged a flat fee of £35 to attend graduation which covered the entry of the graduate to the ceremonies and a guaranteed 2 additional guests. In 2012 30% of students requested 2 or less tickets and indeed 32 students brought no guests at all to the ceremonies. This meant that the remaining 70% of students and their guests were receiving far more for their £35 than the other students. It was, therefore, agreed that given the increasing costs to students for obtaining their degree that a fairer system would allow free entrance to the ceremonies for all graduates and to charge a fee per guest.
A comparison exercise was undertaken with other Universities and a fee of £25 agreed. This fee covers the entrance into the gardens (normally costing £8), access to the ceremony hall, a celebratory brochure and the post ceremony celebration catering for students and their guests.
We listened to feedback to our pricing structure once the ticket prices had been announced and agreed to offer a £10 refund for all tickets that had been purchased for a child after between 6 and 14. All under-fives entered free of charge. The Students’ Union were fully involved in the review from the start of the process.
The feedback received from virtually all who attended the week was of a higher positive and enjoyable experience. A sample of the comments can be found at http://storify.com/StaffsUni/staffordshire-university-awards-2013 .

It was important to us to ensure that our Students were the decision makers in the style, content and range of products that were offered as part of the post ceremony refreshments. We took the opportunity throughout the planning process to run a number of tasting panels of proposed products. The final range was decided upon by Students and were the products that they had given the highest marks to regards to in taste and visual appeal. We were also mindful that there would be a large number of our guests that would have specific dietary requirements and so for the first time we were able to offer the ability to book special dietary requests for not only the students but also their guests. Comments and feedback from the Students show that this was very well received.

Can staff attend graduation?

In keeping with other off site arrangements will staff have to ask for their line manager’s permission to attend graduation?
There appear to be mixed signals with some staff being told they must attend despite the fact that they have other university commitments, whilst others have been told they can attend but only with permission.

If colleagues are asked by their line manager to attend the ceremony for their own faculty they would be expected to do so having discussed any potential conflict with other University business.

In general terms all staff are encouraged to attend one ceremony but they would be expected to obtain their line managers permission which would not normally be refused unless there were other University priorities

Will Awards Week move away from Trentham Gardens?


I’m very much looking forward to graduation this year at Trentham Gardens, especially  this year, (subject to the award board)  I will be collecting my Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector (DTLLS) award. 

Do the executive team have any plans to move future graduation ceremonies away from Trentham Gardens?


This year will be the first Graduation Week that our new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Gunn, has attended since taking up his post. Naturally, Michael will want to see how Trentham Gardens works out for himself before considering any changes for the future.

Obviously the University has to be mindful of how its uses its resources and the Awards Planning Team constantly strive to ensure best value for money. For instance we retendered for the marquees this year and made a considerable saving on previous years.

We will keep you updated of any changes down the line, thank you.