Opinion | International students should be compensated for their late graduation

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Saiba Haque, Politics and Philosophy, Second Year

The University is holding the graduation ceremony for the class of 2022 later than expected – in November 2022. After a degree’s worth of disrupted education, students (especially international ones) are finding this a bitter pill to swallow. These are the steps that the University should take to sugar this pill.

The decision was made due to a backlog of ceremonies delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, it was only last week (the 4th April)  that the class of 2020 enjoyed their graduation ceremony.

For home students, some are frustrated with the decision as they are likely to be busy with their graduate jobs in November. This means that they will have to take one, or several, of their valuable days off in order to graduate.

Third year Economics Student, Ouens Maksvits, agrees: ‘I start a graduate role in July and will have to take one of the twelve holiday days I have this year just to attend this ceremony.’

Other students, understandably, already have plans for November. Third year Economics student Finn Fierro may even have to forego a post-Uni adventure to attend: ‘I was planning on travelling during that time, but I’m not sure if it will happen now’.

But international students are affected most of all. Most student visas expire on the 30th October. Therefore, international students either have to apply for a tourist visa in order to attend the ceremony, or miss out and graduate ‘in absentia’.

Graduation is a rite of passage for all students, and it’s an important milestone for many international students and their parents too. So it’s a shame to see that they may miss out on celebrating their successes due to a technicality.

To make matters worse, applying for a Visa is difficult and tedious.

Add plane fares for themselves and family to already lofty visa costs, and the whole affair will be pricey. I doubt many international students will see one day in Bristol as worth all the logistical hassle and expense.

An anonymous BioMed Third year international student agrees: ‘Having to fly back to Bristol in November rather than staying till July is so costly! We’d have to consider even attending’.

International students already pay double the tuition fees as well as visa application costs on top of their living expenses. Surely they deserve a graduation after three long years of hard work and dedication? Yet it is this group that are being inconvenienced the most as the result of this decision.

The frustration and anger at the University, as expressed via Bristruths, is understandable.

The petition to re-schedule the delayed graduation ceremony | Credit: Change.org

But we are not powerless. The petition, ‘Change graduation ceremony dates for 2022 cohort to the Summer’, currently has 843/1000 signatures. Signing this would be a step in the right direction.

And there are ways in which the University should compensate those affected. They should:

-       Reschedule the graduations of the class of 2022 to August or June. This would be just before the Student visas expire.

-       Offer international students the option to graduate earlier than November.

-       If the ceremony is still taking place in November, consider providing financial support to international students for the costs of coming back to Bristol for a single day.

For a University that relies so heavily on them, international students should not be an after-thought. There’s still time to undo some of the damage and give these undergraduates the farewell they deserve.

Featured image: Unsplash | Vasily Koloda


Should international students be compensated for this decision? How? Let us know @EpigramOpinion !

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