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.