Oxford University library fines

Oxford University hits students with more than £180,000 in library fines in past five years

This was almost double what Cambridge students were fined

Oxford University students were fined £182,638 over the last five years for the late return, or in some cases the failure to return books to the library.

Since 2017/18 only five other Russell Group universities have handed out more in fines, according to Freedom of Information request responses from 20 of the 24 Russell Group institutions.

The Tab investigation however also shows how universities have steadily moved away from the practice.

Between 2012 and 2017, Oxford students were fined half a million pounds (£497,529), more than double what they’ve been fined in the past five years.

Year-on-year the university has taken a more relaxed approach to library fines, as they’ve continuously reduced since 2017/18.

When students were sent home at the start of the pandemic, the Bodleian Libraries decided to suspend fines for late returns. The university also chose to forgive all the existing fines and cleared them.

The university has maintained the policy ever since and instead tells students to “continue to return items promptly to help others carry out their studies and research”.

Students are still charged for books deemed lost, damaged or defaced.

Our data shows in the past two academic years, Oxford students have racked up £6,857.19 in fines for losing, damaging or defacing books.

Despite the loosening of library fines, Oxford University continues to fine students at a significantly higher rate than Cambridge.

Across the last half decade, Cambridge fined its students £81,353 less and even in the past two years as both universities have suspended late fees, Oxford University’s £6,857 in fines is six times greater than the £1,093 charged by Cambridge.

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