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Oxford charged students £50k more in library fines than any other university

Oxford students were charged over £50,000 more in library fines than students at any other UK university in the academic year 2016/17, new data has revealed.

A freedom of information request seen by Cherwell revealed that the Bodleian Libraries collected £167,689.78 in library fines between September 2016 and August 2017.

King’s College London, which charged students £113,726 was the only other university to collect fines worth over £100,000.

A spokesperson for the Bodleian Libraries said: “The money from fines is reinvested into the Libraries.”

The figures constitute a vast increase in the sum collected by the University compared to last year.

In the academic year 2015/16, Oxford students were charged £92,254.70.

Other Russell Group universities in the top ten include the University of Cambridge (£98,487), University College London (£87,195), and the University of Edinburgh (£76,501), according to the i newspaper.

Some universities, including Bath and Chichester, have recently adopted policies such as auto-book renewal and opted against collecting library fines in order to reduce costs of use for students.

Last year, a Cherwell investigation revealed that 14 per cent of Oxford colleges have fined their students over £25,000 since 2010. 95 per cent of fines levied by colleges were
library, lost book, or administrative fines.

The Bodleian Libraries comprise a collection of 32 libraries across the University. Fine policies across libraries differ, but the majority charge 20p per day for overdue standard loan items, while short loan books are charged at £1 per day. Overnight loans are charged at 50p per hour.

Typically, if a reader’s total fines exceed £10, they must be paid before the student can borrow again.

A Bodleian Libraries spokesperson told Cherwell: “Fines are a standard procedure used across libraries to ensure that materials are returned on time and thus made as widely available as possible to all readers.

“There was an increase in the number of fines incurred by students (undergraduates and postgraduates) in 2016-17, but a decrease in the number of students who received the fines.

“This shows that a smaller number of students failed to return a larger number of materials on time.”

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