student life

Don’t get fined at libraries, do get your degree

Libraries—they’re often a second home for students who choose to leave all their work to the last minute, or those that find the typing of hundreds of keyboards or the smell of thousands

Libraries—they’re often a second home for students who choose to leave all their work to the last minute, or those that find the typing of hundreds of keyboards or the smell of thousands of books bizarrely soothing.

But what happens when you leave university and forget to pay off your fines for that book you only just found dusty and unloved under your bed?

Revenge on your reckless and forgettable ways

Well that book may be about to seek its revenge on your reckless and forgettable ways. A growing trend across England and Wales is seeing universities ban students from receiving their degrees if they fail to pay off their library fines.

The move by some universities has caused such furore that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is now investigating, following complaints from the National Union of Students (NUS).

The OFT undertook initial research at 50 universities, which found that half of those sampled had “unfair” terms and conditions, such as enforcement orders and even making students go through court action.

Those that failed to pay their library fines were being denied attendance from attending their graduation ceremonies, with some universities even choosing not to give students their certificates.

Unfair system for students

On the face of it, this is a rather unfair system for students. Not content with taking all our money through extortionate tuition fee costs, universities now feel the need to sting us with library fines and other hidden course costs. With maintenance loans frozen, students are having to decide whether to spend their last fiver on an evening meal or a hefty book fine.

But libraries are important to universities, and perhaps they’re something students take for granted on campus. Packed full of materials and resources, are the library fines simply ensuring that students have access to the latest books and state-of-the-art computers?

Students who get fined are fined because they have failed to return their books on time. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if your book is due back on a certain date, you make sure you return it. Otherwise you face the consequences. Simple.

Selfish that students forget to pay off fines

At my University, the University of Kent, we’re repeatedly told that “all outstanding debts” must be paid off and cleared for students to be admitted to their degree. The warning is surely enough to scare people into paying off their debts—why would you ignore it and risk your degree being taken away from you?

I personally think it’s selfish of those students that forget to return their books and pay off their fines. I’ve had to struggle searching for books and materials online whilst writing an essay in the past, just because the book I need is lying untouched on someone’s bookshelf. The person just keeps on renewing it, hoping the fine will clear. Don’t be naive students, it never just goes away. It only ever increases.

I feel slightly smug by the fact that I have no fines. I play by the rules, so let those that don’t suffer. That’s how society runs right? Considering most fines start at as little as 50p, you really can’t justify leaving your fines to build up.

The fines are ridiculous, but must be paid

Libraries shouldn’t have to enforce fines and universities shouldn’t have to deny degrees. That’s not in their best interests. They just want to protect the resources they have, which thus benefits the rest of the students.

Library fines might be ridiculous, but it’s ridiculous that students don’t pay them. In any other circumstance, you wouldn’t expect to be rewarded with something if you still owed someone money.

So stop being careless and selfish students, and start paying off those library fines!

What do you think about the OFT research? Have you had any experiences like this? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.