The University of St. Andrews has been urged by a Professor to ditch ‘elitist’ red gowns, in a bid to appeal more to poorer applicants. This recommendation suggests an end to a tradition that dates back over 600 years. Professor Sir Peter Scott – an advisor to the Scottish Government – has suggested it is time for the £159 red gown to be ditched. Scott’s thoughts have resulted in a polarised response, with some praising the idea, though many were deeply against the idea. Read on for the full story.
As mentioned, the red gown dates back hundreds of years. However, Scott suggested the gowns portrayed St. Andrews as ‘elitist’. During a speech at the Education and Skills Committee, he mentioned that the University needs to ‘take into account’ that the gowns might put off some people from applying. He also suggested that students ‘parading’ around the campus in the gowns wasn’t an image many would want to be associated with. He went on to say Universities need to work ‘a bit harder’ to prove to everyone they would fit in and be welcomed. As seen below, there was some support.
However, as we will see below, his comments also led to somewhat of a backlash. With the University being one of the most prestigious in Scotland, the red gown has become synonymous with the institution. It is a famous tradition for students to wear the gown. Many have raised points about the ‘inclusitivity’ that the gown gives them, while others shunned the idea that the cost of the gown could be off-putting. The gown is usually worn on special occasions, though there are no set restrictions on its wear. Here are some more opinions.
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So an interesting argument – with good points on both side. If the gowns do put people off applying, then it could pose a problem for the University. However judging by the fierce response to the original comments – it seems the majority of people are more than happy to wear the red gown on campus.