Good discipline?

Universities’ disciplinary records under scrutiny.

Some entertaining reactions to a piece in the Guardian which reported that university students had paid over £0.5m in fines in a year:

Universities across the UK issued disciplinary and administrative fines totalling more than £550,000 to students last year.

Freedom of information requests from the Guardian have shown students were fined a total of £551,237.30 for offences such as smoking, drunkenness, and unauthorised parties in the last academic year. One institution said it used the money collected to fund the annual staff outing.

The results also revealed a number of peculiarities in the amounts fined for each offence. At Brunel University, while “assisting students with online tests for money” landed one student with a £250 fine, another was fined £50 for “hitting a member of staff”.

A student at Kent University was fined £50 for “insulting or violent behaviour including or involving racial, sexual or other abuse, harassment or threat of violence” – the same amount that many were charged for smoking offences.

Other offences that resulted in disciplinary action at universities included keeping chickens, leaving food on a window ledge, stealing loaves of bread and being prepared for a post-examination “trashing” of another student. Warwick University issued fines totalling £350 last year to students who were “drunk”, with no further reason given.

Some unusual offences here but perhaps nothing too remarkable for any readers of True Crime on Campus (apart perhaps from the keeping chickens offence, which is a new one to me).

Surprisingly unwelcome on campus

Surprisingly unwelcome on campus

Also, it’s perhaps a rather low sum given the large number of offences against regulations which will be committed by students every year. University do have rules and it is inevitable that many students will breach them at some point, often in halls of residence where they are learning for the first time about shared community responsibilities. The University of Nottingham’s Code of Discipline is outlined in its Ordinances and notes the reasons for the need for such legislation an students’ undertakings:

  1. Regulations on discipline are necessary because the University is a society in which good standards of communal life must be maintained, so that all its members may enjoy conditions enabling them to achieve their aims in joining it. Present students should also, in their behaviour, show proper concern for the reputation of the University and its effect on their contemporaries and their successors.

  2. The acceptance of an offer of admission by students is regarded as an undertaking to obey such University Ordinances and Regulations as are in force at any time during their period of study, and each student is required at registration to enter into such an undertaking.

So there can’t be any real room for misunderstandings there. Unless you decide to keep chickens of course.