Tree Court, in Gonville & Caius CollegeLouis Ashworth

Gonville & Caius College has announced that third year graduands will not be charged rent for staying in College between the end of term and their graduation ceremony, following sharp criticism from students of inadequate communication of the charge from the College.

In previous years, finalists were able to stay in their normal rooms for no extra cost for the four day period up to their graduation ceremony on the 28th June. Students assumed this would remain the same for this year, and claim that they signed up to the graduation ceremony without being informed that they would be expected to pay an extra residence charge.

The extra payment only came to light after a student emailed the Accommodation Office on Tuesday, who told students that they were expected to pay a £93.20 “vacation residence”.  


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The reason given for this was that students in previous years had been over-charged in rent from their first term in their first year, therefore they were allowed to stay in their rooms over graduation week free of charge, to be compensated for this over-payment.

An open letter calling on the College to “reconsider their decision” gathered over 120 signatures in 24 hours, and was sent to College Master, Professor Sir Alan Fersht, Senior Bursar, Dr David Secher, and members of the College Council.

The letter claimed that the College “never officially communicated [the charge] to us”, commenting that it came as a “shock” to students at a “ highly stressful time” as they prepare for their final exams. The letter also expressed concern at financing the rent, adding that  “many” of them were “already struggling with student finances, not least given the additional costs involved in graduation”.

On Wednesday, members of the GCSU attended a meeting with the College Council to discuss the rent charge. At the meeting, the master is alleged to have “compared the charges to May Ball costs”. The College’s Academic Dean, Dr Paul Wingfield, reportedly said that if the charges were waived it “would be unfair to to previous years” who had paid for more nights in college in their first term.

The GCSU president, Reiss Akhtar said that the “high and disproportionate” rent costs would make “graduation inaccessible” for Caius students.

Gordon Hao, a finalist at Gonville & Caius, said that implementing the rent charge would have been “a sad way for the College to say goodbye to us”.

Gioia Casale, a finalist at the College from the EU, commented that the rent charge would have left international students in a difficult position, as unless they accepted paying the “extortionate amount” they would be “left with no place to stay and have to go home and back for graduation, which is incredibly expensive”.


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In a statement sent to Caians, College Master Professor Sir Alan Fersht, said that because graduands are “paying for exactly the same number of nights overall” as previous graduates – of four nights at the end of the final year rather than the beginning of first year – that “it is not the case that students are being treated any differently this year”. It was noted that the “revised arrangement” of students paying to stay in College before graduation instead of paying extra in their first term was “clearly set out” in the 2017-18 accommodation handbook.

Despite this, the College Council stated that it “has no wish to spoil the atmosphere of graduation” and therefore decided to “waive rental charges for all graduands” for this year only.

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