Documents released under the Official Information Act reveal students have forked out over $400,000 in fines over the past five years.
The documents, requested by Stuff, reveal around $340,000 of the $400,000 was made up of late fees alone. Late fees are an extra charge added to the cost of studies, as punishment for failing to pay course fees before the due date. The remaining money – roughly $62,000 – was spread across a variety of offences. They included forgetting ID cards before exams, setting off fire alarms without cause, and violating alcohol bans. Academic misconduct made up the majority of the $62,000, with $42,650 in fines collected between 2015 and 2019 for offences such as plagiarising essays and cheating in exams. Outside of campus, residents at university halls were handed fines amounting to $8800 between 2015 and 2019, for violations which included breaking booze and noise restrictions, having unauthorised guests, and failing to evacuate promptly during a fire alarm.
AUSA President George Barton says the fines are “ludicrous”. In particular, Barton says the late payment fees might unfairly prejudice students who are struggling financially. Fining students for failing to raise the cost of university fees on time “doesn’t make sense”.
A spokesperson for the university says the university’s Equity Office was “not aware of relationships between late payment and financial pressures”. However, the spokesperson says “there are generally opportunities for students to raise financial challenges and these would be taken into consideration” when assigning the fines.