So following an interesting study, we’ve uncovered some pretty damning statistics. Over £2.2M spent on library fines at just 64 institutions. When you stop and think about this, it really is unbelievable. We can try to ignore the fact that for 61 of these institutions, the figure didn’t even include other fines – such as those for lost or damaged resources. The worst culprit – the University of Oxford of all places – levied fines totalling over £150,000. Only five University’s in our study didn’t charge library fines, instead opting to place temporary bans on any student that fails to return a book. And this system works. And surely everyone knows this. So why don’t the others change? That age old issue – greed. University’s are money-making machines, the revelations today are nothing new.
From the outset, I don’t want to defend student’s who fail to return a book on time. It is silly to do so and very selfish if another student has reserved the book. Yet with the cost of University being so high, there is a pressure on students like never before to succeed. So now ask yourself this… You have an important exam coming up, a book you currently are loaning is due for recall. Yet your exam is two days away. Under the system employed at the majority of institutions, you will be charged a fine of around £3-5 to keep the book for another two days. You might think that this is a worthwhile investment – what is £5 anyway after spending £9,000 on tuition fees, not to mention the other costs associated with University. Yet if you knew you would have a two week ban from loaning other books, you would be far more inclined to return an item.
Recent figures have suggested many students don’t feel as if they are getting value for money out of their degree. A few weeks ago, we did a supposedly ‘tongue-in-cheek’ article named ‘8 Things you thought would be included in your tuition fees… but weren’t‘. Now yes this article, like the majority of articles on this site, was intended to be humorous, yet there is a lot of truth in it. Why, after spending £9,000 on tuition fees should students have to fork out for textbooks? Why should they have to buy graduation robes? All this on top of living costs – and any student that has lived in a student house can attest to the fact that the majority of student landlords never return a deposit given to you. We could ask ourselves – what is the point? Aren’t we supposed to be encouraging them to be our future leaders? Or is it more just an opportunity to make as much money out of them as possible?
Will this system change? I doubt it. If you can charge over £150,000 on library fines and people are happy to pay, why change? That’s if you’re greedy. Or maybe it is about time to show some respect to students, and not just use them for their money. The University of Westminster has successfully ran a system where they temporarily ban students from loaning books for over two decades. Liverpool John Moores University recently joined them, and slowly, more institution’s appear to be moving away from the system. It is a difficult world facing current students – education costs are at an all-time high, while living costs too continue to rise.
It is important to note that few places compare to a University – a place where people are challenged to produce their very best performance. And we’re fortunate – this country boasts one of the best education systems in the world – evidenced by the fact that we have a huge international community of students. There are so many positives regarding University, it is just a shame that sometimes these positives can be overshadowed. University’s are meant to be places for students to challenge and better themselves. Not to be a place where they are exploited.
I’m very disappointed to be writing this article. No one likes to be critical, and in my personal University experience, I stuck well clear of library fines, so it isn’t really even something that affected me. But this site is based around students – and it is clearly a problem for many of them. Some will say the problem can easily be solved by students just returning their books on time. But clearly, the problem is that the fine system isn’t acting as an effective deterrent, and as I mentioned earlier, what is a £5 fine for someone who will come out of University in around £40k in debt. The entire system is flawed, this is nothing new, and until University’s start to treat their students with respect, nothing will change.
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