For some weird reason, we all like to one up each other when talking about how much debt we are in to the library. But, as with all high stakes gambling, the house always wins.

Last year, the university made just under £370,000 from students in library fines. Considering that fines can start from as low as 20p a day for an overdue book, the system truly typifies the adage that every little counts.

UCL is moving the goalposts this year, however. From now on, students who have accrued debt of over £20 will find that their accounts have been blocked, and that they are unable to take out any more books.

This is part of UCL’s new amnesty system so that students who have any library fines debt equal to or above £20 — be that £30 or £200 — will only have to pay £20 in fines.

All of which begs the question — what on earth is the library’s large bounty spent on? Those hoping for a sinister answer will be disappointed: “Upgrading IT equipment and purchasing books and journals” according to Peter Dennision, Head of Customer Service at UCL Libraries.

Though he adds that an automatic renewal system on borrowed books will be put in place for the next academic year (though it is currently unclear how the new system will work) so that students have one fewer thing to worry about.

UCL putting student wellbeing above profit? We’ll believe it when we see it.

Jason Murugesu