Lobby the university to make graduation robes and hoods cheaper/free.

Alexander Sadler submitted on

Monday 25th March 2019


Graduation robes, hoods etc. cost £45 just to rent for a couple of hours. Online purchasing similar style robes outright costs only slightly more than £45, therefore renting should be considerably cheaper. The supplier the university uses sets the price, why not switch to a more cost effective one? Or better yet - cover the costs using the considerable tuition fees that the university receives.

One can imagine a situation where a poorer student is unable to attend their own graduation because of the cost. Is it more important that everyone is dressed homogeneously or that everyone is included?


Here, you can view the complete set of official responses from the sabbatical officers regarding this submission.

Students' Union replied on

Friday 3rd May 2019 4:49pm

Hello again Alexander, 

I hope you are well. As there has been no new developments on the above I'm going to mark this You Make Change as complete. However I would anticipate that (should the robe contract go out to tender again) there would be some more updates once the new Sabbatical team comes into post. If something new does come up I'd expect this submission to be updated to reflect that, so do keep an eye out! 

Please do get in touch if you have any further suggestions and thanks again for the submission! 

Best wishes,

Sam Dedman (SUSU VP Education 2017-19, vpeducation@susu.org)

Students' Union replied on

Monday 8th Apr 2019 1:37pm


Thanks for getting in touch, and apologies that it has taken a few days for me to post a reply here. We actually had a You Make Change submission on a very similar topic just a few weeks ago, and as such I'm going to lift a large part of my response from there. First of all, here is the response that the University's Exams, Awards and Graduation team gave to the last submission (and may have, I think, relevance here also): 

I’m very sorry that you feel that the cost is too high. We review the costs regularly with our robe supplier, Wippells, and we work hard to keep costs down. Our prices are amongst the lowest in the country although I appreciate it’s still an extra charge.

You will have access to your robes from 2 hours before your ceremony for the rest of your day, so you will be able to wear it to your reception and your photographs (formal or informal). 

The University may be able to offer financial support to anyone who is finding it difficult to pay for robes but who wants to attend their ceremony. The team who operate the Student Support fund can be contacted on (EDIT - correct email is sscfia@soton.ac.uk) and they also operate drop in sessions every Friday in the Student Services Centre. More details can be found on https://www.southampton.ac.uk/studentservices/money-matters/index.page.

Alternatively the graduation team is happy to speak with anyone who would like to discuss this or any other aspect of graduation – please visit us in Building 37, room 2083, phone us on 023 8059 3520 or email us on graduation@soton.ac.uk.

One thing that did come out of that last conversation was confirmation that once a tender process begins for the robe contract (which could be within the next year potentially) there will be SUSU involvement as part of that. This will almost certainly be after my time in office as VP Education, but I could certainly see one of the future Sabbatical Officers being involved. The team at the University have been very clear that if they can find a company who can match (or exceed) the current service and quality of garments at a lower cost to students, they will do so. 

The other area of progress has been in increasing the support available to students due to graduate. I've been working with the team responsible for the Student Support Fund to ringfence some funds available to students who a) have a household income of less than £16,000 and b) are Undergraduates. More details about the money available (and how to apply for it) can be found here (https://www.southampton.ac.uk/studentservices/money-matters/student-support-fund/index.page), though I should emphasise that this is on a first-come, first-served basis. 

I hope that reassures you that we are working on the issue of graduation costs, and would welcome any further ideas or suggestions that you have. 

Thanks again for the submission, and best wishes, 

Samuel Dedman (SUSU VP Education 2017-19, vpeducation@susu.org)


  • Forwarded to Education

    Friday 29th Mar 2019 1:15pm


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