Graduation — a time of relief, celebration and anticipation for university students. After years of stress, assignments and deadlines, students are eager celebrate their accomplishment with relatives and friends before venturing out into the wider world — or perhaps returning for future study.
However, for many the joy of this long-awaited achievement has been dampened by an unexpected 400 per cent increase to the cost of graduation tickets, incorrectly listed prices with Centertainment – the third party operator – and a reduction in the number of complimentary tickets available to each graduand.
In previous years, ticket prices ranged from approximately $5 – $7 per person, and graduands were given three complimentary tickets for friends and relatives.
This year, graduands have been asked to fork out $28.50 per person for extra tickets, and were given two complimentary tickets.
Tickets were released for sale on the 20th of November. They were advertised on both the UTas Facebook graduation page and Centertainment as $20 plus a $2.20 booking fee per ticket.
Unfortunately, this listed price was incorrect, and failed to include an additional $8.50 service fee charged by Centertainment.
The service charge was later updated on the website to reflect the correct price, but the extra unadvertised fee caught many students looking to purchase tickets for relatives and friends unaware.
Early on the morning of the 20th, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery student Eliza Burke-Polden purchased tickets online for six members of her family who were flying down to attend her graduation.Three hours later she received a call from Centertainment informing her that the online ticket prices had been incorrectly listed, and that she needed to pay an additional $8.50 per ticket – an extra $51.
Burke-Polden said the price rise “definitely limits number of family and friends that I invite to attend.”
“For many the cost to attend the graduation ceremony is too much. UTas is a fantastic university and I have invested five years into this course of study, and my family are eager to see me cross that stage and receive my degree. I feel disheartened that there are individuals who do not attend due to the high cost.”
A number of frustrated students have taken to social media to protest the increased price. UTas responded to each complaint with the following reply;
“Each graduand receives two tickets from the University at no charge. In order to provide improved access for families and friends to join the graduation celebration, the University has increased the number of seats reserved for guests. In line with current practices for Australian universities, these tickets are sold to cover costs such as refreshments, ushering, and programs. Family and friends can also watch you graduate from http:livestream.com/universityoftasmania.”
First year Masters of Teaching student, Joseph O’Malley, plans to attend the 2017 ceremony with his fiancé, a 2017 expected graduand. O’Malley asked UTas to explain the reason behind the price hike, but was dissatisfied by UTas’s generic response.
“I have seen the same copy and paste response on every complaint to the Uni,” he said. “UTas’s response to this whole affair has been poor and lacking in any real concern for the students.”
Despite the considerable increase, students didn’t get notified of the price change, and I honestly believe that they may have been trying to quietly get away with it as each year’s graduates obviously don’t consider the cost of previous years.
“The number of people who you can invite is pretty limited by the cost now, and I don’t see there being a 400% increase in quality this year, so why the sudden price jump?”