Say "No!" to Graduation Fees

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tl;dr £45 to to hire robes that are required for graduation is expensive, and unjustifiable. The University of Edinburgh successfully petitioned their uni to abolish these fees, so we believe that it is possible to get LSE to do so as well.

Long version:

In the words of LSE: 

"...the graduation ceremony is an important event at the other end of our students’ LSE journey. It symbolises completion, that all the hard work has been worth it, that they’ve made it." 

This petition is part of a long-term, ongoing struggle for the abolition of graduation fees including entrance fees and robe hires; particularly the latter in the case of LSE. It exists because we do not believe that the price tag on something so fundamental to the university experience is reasonable, or acceptable. Its objective is to move LSE to completely abolish these various fees for graduation and not sneakily pass on the costs to students in the form of higher prices elsewhere (notably fees for  international undergraduate students which stand at around £18,000 a year and rise by about £700 each year).

Undergraduate students are required to pay £45 in order to hire their academic dress for just a day, and these can only be hired from Ede & Ravenscroft Ltd, giving them an effective monopoly. Students are not able to opt out from hiring. 

Moreover, previous reports and investigations by others suggest that Ede & Ravenscroft Ltd pays a commission up to 20% to universities on the price of each robe rented as part of their contractual relationship (LSE claims that the commission they are paid goes back into the ceremonies budget). This coupled with the fact that LSE made £60.9 million in surplus profits in 2016/17, compels us to feel that should this be true, LSE very much ought to consider re-evaluating their contract with Ede & Ravenscroft Ltd. 

Having spoken with some representatives from the LSE, their solution seems to be that they hope to open a fund in the future which needy students can access. However, we do not see this to be sufficient. The issue is not simply that of affordability, it is that the price itself is not justifiable, especially in light of the gross profits that LSE makes each year off its students. The LSE believes that this ceremony is an important event, yet puts a price tag on it where only those who are able or willing to pay can attend it. Even though most undergraduates have already contributed some £27,000 (local) and about £54,000 (international) over 3 years for their experience and education at LSE. We do not think that any additional "microtransactions" should be imposed on students, particularly for graduation since it is, as aforementioned, a fundamental aspect of the LSE and university experience. 
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Background:

1. You can find LSE's Financial Statements here: https://info.lse.ac.uk/staff/divisions/Finance-Division/annual-accounts/financial-statements

2. Complaints have been filed against Ede & Ravenscroft Ltd in the past, but the Competition Market Authorities assert that they do not have the resources to tackle this issue, as they consider it non-urgent. Since this has been an on-going issue for the last decade and perhaps longer, we believe that the Competition Market Authorities must take action sooner rather than later (or never). 

3. Students from The University of Glasgow made a successful petition and moved their University to abolish graduation fees ( https://glasgowguardian.co.uk/2018/05/09/graduation-fee-petition-gains-over-1000-signatures-in-less-than-a-day/ ). Based on this, we believe we can replicate that success at LSE, and perhaps in London as well. 
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What can you do?

1. Sign this petition and share it with your friends! We will be presenting this to LSE's Senior Management, as well as the LSE Director, Dame Shafik Minouche. 

2. E-mail LSE Ceremonies ( ceremonies@lse.ac.uk ), and tell them that you do not believe that the cost is acceptable. 

3. Lodge a complaint against Ede & Ravenscroft Ltd for monopoly pricing and anti-competitive behaviour to the Competition Market Authorities by downloading the relevant form here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/report-anti-competitive-or-market-issues-to-the-cma and e-mailing it to general.enquiries@cma.gsi.gov.uk
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Note: I have been sending e-mails to LSE for the past month and been working closely with the LSE SU General Secretary, Mahatir Pasha, as well as a few other friends. We will be meeting LSE's senior management to discuss and clarify further facts regarding this issue and be doing our best to reduce and eliminate these fees. 

Updates will be posted here and on our FB page. 

Special thanks to the LSE SU and their General Secretary, and my many friends and colleagues who assisted me in this for their hard-work, and advice. 



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