It has emerged that students in the UK racked up fines totalling £551,237.30 in the last academic year alone, following a Freedom of information request from the Guardian.
Offences like drunkenness (shock horror); smoking and unauthorised parties have all rendered naughty students somewhat out of pocket. On the bizarre end of the scale, students have been fined for keeping chickens, leaving food on a window ledge and stealing loaves of bread.
Top of the league for dishing out fiscal forfeits is Middlesex University, scooping £61,400 for ‘late payments’, with students paying a £200 penalty for failing to pay tuition fees or give confirmation of sponsorship on time. Ouchy.
Cambridge rank fifth in the fines table, where penalties for missing supervision with a tutor vary from £10 to £200 across Cambridge colleges. Incredibly, while most universities said the cash was used to fund student hardship programmes, Cambridge’s Downing college admitted using the money to fund the ‘annual staff outing’, or ‘jolly’ to you and me. Amazing.
But seriously, university fees and living costs are only going one way – steeply upward, so it’s important that you do what you can to keep a lid on your spending. Throwing money away in the form of silly fines is only going to dampen the whole experience and generate unneeded stress, so here’s a few tips to remember:
* Drunk and disorderly: Fresher’s week is a bumper time for misdemeanours and reciprocal fines. A week, sometimes two of heady partying and making friends ushers you into the life of academia and with drink prices bordering on the ridiculous it’s important you remember stay in control. Resist the urge to let off that fire extinguisher, light that bedroom cigarette, set off that fire alarm or jump off that static building.
* Don’t bungle your budget: I well remember the scramble to the bank on student loans day, and more so the weeks of poverty that preceded it. It’s hard to be sensible with a lump sum burning a whole in your bank account but you have to remember that that money has to last until the next influx and you need to budget for unexpected expenditure. A fantastic new way to do this is download a budgeting apps, I’d recommend Moneybook or Pennies.
* Play hard, work hard: Some universities will fine you for handing work in late so knuckle down and get it done. Have the strength of mind to turn down the offer of a party when a deadline looms and you’ll be able to afford the next one.
* All in the planning: Some universities will even fine you for missing one-to-one tutorials or persistently skipping lectures and seminars. It’s vital you read-up on the rules and regs of your college as they vary from institution to institution. Again, make use of the latest technology to plan your weeks, I recommend Wunderlist or iStudiezPro – both great scheduling tools to keep you on track.
* Mi casa es su casa: When you make the shift from living in halls to renting a property the outgoings can really start to stack up (most notably on sickening estate agent fees). Those aren’t avoidable, but being a responsible tenant is all on you. Check through the itinerary carefully and keep it safe – you don’t want to lose your hefty deposit, worse still have to pay more on top. After any raucous party, assess the damage and get it fixed pronto – leaving it all to moving out day is bound to dent your pocket.
Chances are that money is going to be right up there on your list of worries at uni so do yourself a favour – look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.