STUDENTS at the University of Chester had to pay out a whopping £37,000 in library fines in just 12 months, the Leader can reveal.
The huge bill was racked up across the university's sites in the city and Warrington during the 2015/16 academic year.
Students have to shell out 10p for every day a three-week loan book is overdue, 50p per day for weekly loaned books, and 50p a day for one-day loan books.
The total amount of £37,288 could buy abaout 150,000 tins of value baked beans or provide three Pot Noodles for every one of the university's 12,000 plus undergraduate and postgraduate students.
The National Union of Students (NUS) has hit out at universities that pocket cash from overdue library books.
A spokesman for the NUS said: “Students are facing a cost of living crisis, course costs and accommodation costs have risen to unamenable levels.
“It is simply unacceptable that they are being punished further in this way and made to fund the books that they have already paid course costs to study.”
Some establishments have now scrapped library fines altogether. At the University of Sheffield a book is renewed automatically unless it has been reserved by someone else, in which case the current borrower cannot take any more books out until it is returned.
However, the university in Chester has defended its policy, saying that all money made from fines is reinvested in the library services.
Bosses have also stressed that students – as well as staff and members of the public who use the facilities – are given ample warning of pending fines.
A university spokesman said: “We focus on providing a library service to meet the needs of all our users across our nine sites.
“Courtesy emails are sent to patrons two days before books are due as a reminder, and they have a number of options to manage their book allowance, including telephone and online access to their library account.
“We have not increased our fines policies for a number of years, and additionally for user convenience have developed other avenues to access their library account, for example direct availability via the university app.”
She added: “The purpose of fines is to ensure that all students have equal access to texts and others are not disadvantaged. Our current policies emphasise how our systems work to ensure clarity for our patrons, and this is also inbuilt within an active user education programme which is reflected in a decreasing intake of fines within our libraries.
“All money is used to reinvest in the library service.”
The university houses more than 300,000 books in libraries across its sites.