Fines issued to students for breaches of colleges rules amounted to more than £8,500 last year, Varsity can reveal.

There are significant disparities among colleges related to policies for fining students.

Some colleges say they try to avoid financial penalties “whenever possible”, while others fine students for missing supervisions, smoking in bedrooms and leaving mess in kitchens.

Fines issued by three Colleges made up roughly two thirds of student fines last year.

Emmanuel, Jesus and Magdalene Colleges collectively fined students over £5,500.

The most common reason students were fined at Emma and Jesus was the late payments of bills, while at Magdalene most fines were issued for failing to complete exeat formalities.

Students at Magdalene must meet with their tutor and fill out an exeat form confirming they have “kept term” (been in Cambridge for a minimum of 59 nights).

Failure to follow these procedures incurs a £30 fine. At Selwyn, there are fines of £20 for falling to fill out exeat forms or if a student does not meet with their DOS or Tutor at the beginning and end of each term.

Some colleges also fine students for disciplinary matters investigated by the dean or to recover the cost of damage to accommodation.

Gonvile & Caius college fined 11 students a total of £1.1k for hosting a house party in College accommodation this term.

The students who were told they had to pay £100 each said they asked the College for a non-financial penalty but this was denied.

Alternative means of punishment include community service, writing essays or letters of apology.

Trinity hall disclosed they only fine students for one very specific breach of the College rules: the misuse of fire safety equipment.


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Magdalene, St Catherine’s, Caius, Trinity and Girton all issued fines of £100 or more last year.

While the amount College take in fines has decreased significantly since Covid, when one College alone fined students more than £5.5k, their continued existence is a subject of debate.

On student who was fined £100 told Varsity: “A blanket fine of £100 seems an elitist means of punishing students. No consideration is taken of socio-economic backgrounds, leaving some students in extremely tricky financial situations, having to have further difficult and awkward conversations with their College."