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International students to miss Abertay graduation as Dundee hotels fill up for 150th Open

Cho (Carlotta) Canavesio and Gabriela Pedraza outside Abertay University.
Cho (Carlotta) Canavesio and Gabriela Pedraza outside Abertay University.

Abertay students say they feel “betrayed” by the university as their summer graduation clashes with one of the biggest sporting events of the year, leaving relatives with nowhere to stay.

International students say their families will be unable to watch them graduate as they have been unable to find accommodation, due to venues booking up months in advance ahead of The Open.

Some have chosen not to attend graduation at all due to being unable to have their families present.

Abertay has offered these students the chance to attend the winter graduations in November.

Quintupled accommodation prices

Prices for accommodation in the city have almost quintupled for the week of The Open in neighbouring St Andrews from July 10 to 17.

Abertay is hosting three days of graduation from July 13 to 15.

Families attempting to book accommodation during that time are facing £3,000 bills for around a week’s stay, with prices expected to rise even higher.

Abertay graduates celebrating with their families outside the Caird Hall in 2019.

The issue has forced most students to book accommodation outside Tayside and Fife and travel into Dundee each day.

International student Gabriela Pedraza, who studies psychology and forensic biology, said she had to book her parents into paid student accommodation at Parker House, where she will have to provide bedding and cutlery herself.

She said: “I was really looking forward to spending some time with my parents in Dundee and when we found out about this I thought they wouldn’t be able to attend my graduation.”

Gabriela outside Abertay University.

She added: “Thankfully I was able to book accommodation at Parker House but it was very stressful and they didn’t have a lot of rooms.

Gabriela said she took action early after noticing the accommodation issue to ensure her parents had somewhere to stay but worries other students still won’t be aware due to looming deadlines taking priority.

Concern for other international students

Gabriela said she and Cho (Carlotta) Canavesio, another international student at Abertay, began reaching out to other students to raise awareness.

They want the university to provide student halls for accommodation.

The pair say they are aware of at least 30 international students who have been unable to find accommodation but suspect the number is far greater due to the university offering delayed graduations to all those who missed out over the pandemic.

Cho, who studies consumer sciences at Abertay, said she has been forced to ask her flatmate, who is also graduating this summer, to find somewhere else to stay during the week so her parents can stay in Dundee.

Gabriela and Cho have reached out to other students over fears they will miss out.

“Currently my flatmate is having to leave my flat to stay in Glasgow with her parents to travel through for graduation so I can at least have my parents here for most of the week,” Cho said.

“I’ve just given up trying to accommodate any of my siblings or friends.

“The university suggested having my parents stay outside in Perth, Angus, Edinburgh or Glasgow and travel.

“I explained to them that most international parents do not speak English so, they would struggle with the transport system and the cost is just as high as Dundee.”

‘We feel quite betrayed’

Cho said international students in particular, feel “betrayed” due to the scarifies they made during the pandemic to study in Dundee.

She said: “Most of us never had our parents here or had the chance to go back when the pandemic hit.

“The Open week was decided in February 2021 for Summer 2022 so there’s no way that a university in Dundee doesn’t know about the biggest sporting event in Scotland that happens every summer around the same time.W

Cho outside Abertay University.

She added: “Some students have even told us that due to the fact they can’t have their loved ones here they just decided to flat out not attend the graduation, which is quite sad after four years.”

A spokesman for Abertay University said they are aware of the high demand for accommodation in Dundee and have been in regular contact with students since November, advising they book early and those directly concerned.

University liaising with affected students

He said: “When booking these dates we took into account the consecutive days available at the Caird Hall, the availability of key staff required to plan and deliver the events, how these dates would fit within our academic calendar, and the availability of the various external contractors required for provision of services on graduation days.

“Where graduates prefer not to attend this summer we will offer to accommodate them at our next ceremony in November.”

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