Anti-Social Behaviour Fines for University Students

Robbie Meredith, BBC News NI Education Correspondent, wrote on Thursdasy 28 December 2019:

Queen's University (QUB) and Ulster University (UU) have fined 58 students in Belfast's Holyland area for anti-social behaviour since the start of the 2018 academic year.

QUB has fined 33 students a total of £4,900 since 1 August 2018.

UU has fined 25 students, collecting £1,400 from 17 fined in the 2018/19 academic year.

More than 200 students in the Holyland were issued with written warnings about their conduct since 1 August 2018.

The figures were revealed by both universities following questions from BBC News NI.

There have been complaints from some residents in the Holyland for a number of years about anti-social behaviour and multiple occupancy homes.

It is thought that about 1,000 students have a term-time address in the area, although not all may live there on a permanent basis.

QUB said that 168 cases involving Queen's students living in the Holyland came before the university's disciplinary officers for investigation in the 2018-19 academic year.

As a result, 113 individual students received written warnings about their conduct and 33 were fined. 

'Alcohol education courses'

In the 2019-20 academic year, QUB said that 100 cases involving Queen's students living in the Holyland area had come before the university's disciplinary officers up to 11 October 2019.

These cases are progressing.

UU said that it had issued 64 written warnings to students living in the Holyland about their conduct in 2018-19 and 47 so far in the 2019-20 academic year, up until 7 November 2019. 

In addition to issuing 25 fines since 1 August 2018, UU suspended two students in the Holyland for anti-social behaviour in 2018/19 and have suspended one so far in the current academic year.

Fines collected by both universities are spent on things like alcohol education courses for students and community and charity events.

Neither university had expelled a student living in the Holyland since 1 August 2018 but this may be due to ongoing criminal proceedings taking precedence.

In a statement, QUB said it had a dedicated team working with students and the community in the area on an ongoing basis throughout the year.

"Queen's will fully investigate any complaints or reports of anti-social behaviour," the statement said.

"A strict off-campus disciplinary code is in place, and if any Queen's student is found to have brought the university into disrepute, they are subject to the full rigours of this code."

Prof Duncan Morrow, UU's director of community engagement, said the university made its students fully aware of their responsibilities and the risks of engaging in anti-social behaviour.

"Ulster University has robust disciplinary procedures in place to deal with any incidences of anti-social behaviour," he said.

"Our community relations team continues to work with the PSNI, Belfast City Council and local residents to respond to any complaints.

"Each complaint is reviewed on a case-by-case basis and is fully investigated by senior university staff.

"If appropriate and sufficient evidence is provided, the university will respond appropriately, ranging from providing advice, instruction, cautions and fines to academic suspension or expulsion." 

Disciplinary procedures at QUB and UU also apply to students in areas other than the Holyland. 

While the majority of students living in the area come from both universities, there are also understood to be a smaller number of students living there from St Mary's University College, Stranmillis College and Belfast Metropolitan College.

For this, and links to other stories in the same vein, go to: Anti-social behaviour fines for university students - BBC News. Also see: 'Postcards from Belfast's Holyland' ... Revisited on this website.