The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has hit out at the University as being “unfair” and “unreasonable” for stopping students with outstanding debts from graduating.
The Leeds University library website states: “If you are in debt to the University you may not be able to graduate”.
Nisha Arora, Senior Director in the OFT’s Services, Infrastructure and Public Markets Group, said: “Preventing progression or graduation not only affects students’ educational experience but could also significantly harm their future employment prospects and ability to pay off their debts.”
Unpaid library fines, accommodation and childcare services could all stop a student from graduating. However the OFT now says that stopping graduations “could breach consumer protection law”.
Leeds University has heavily profited from library fines, with £1.8 million being collected in just six years from 2004, over £9 for every student each year.
Alice Smart, the Union’s Education officer said: “No student’s academic or career progression should be determined by how much money they have.”
One final year English student said: “It’s quite scary to think that three years of hard work could be wasted because of a few unreturned books.”
A University spokesperson told this newspaper it is “currently reviewing its policy on this issue and will give details of any new or amended proce- dures in due course.”
A spokesperson for the OFT said it is urging all universities to review their policies, regardless of whether they have been enforced.
Giovanni Da Costa