On the University’s New Parking Policy

Nottingham has always been one of the few universities that doesn’t charge staff and students for car parking; however, September this year saw the introduction of a new car parking policy across the University’s campuses. Students once eligible for a free parking permit will now be charged and the University’s pay and display facilities have been expanded. In addition, the Security Services have begun to enforce car parking regulations more strictly and, according to the Head of Security, there have already been a “good number of students who have received notices for unauthorised parking on campus.”

Only those living 15 miles away or further can qualify for a permit. Students who are not eligible for a permit and are facing increased charges have voiced their concerns, claiming that the changes are unfair and merely another means of making profit: “I just see it as another way for the University to get money out of us — they’re already putting fees up to £9,000 next year!”

A sign in the security office’s window suggests that the staff have received several complaints about the changes, as it states that the new charges have been known for about 12 months and that abuse at the counter will not be tolerated. As unpopular as the costs of a permit may be, the security staff are merely performing their daily duties, and can do little if anything to influence the University’s policies.

However, are students’ protests actually warranted? Students who own cars often use them, not as an alternative to walking or catching the bus to lectures, but in order to travel to the sports centre or library in the evening or at the weekend. Many students don’t feel safe walking or cycling onto campus at such times, especially during dark winter months, and repeatedly travelling by bus to campus can get expensive. Is it really fair that the University has forced students to pay car parking charges on top of rising petrol costs, rising tuition fees, and a rising cost of living? Furthermore, those who are now facing charges when they park at the gym and swimming pool have already paid £199 for a gym membership. Why are those choosing to keep fit, and perhaps actively training whilst representing the university in various sporting fixtures, being punished for driving to train for such events?

The University’s apparent justifications for the new charges are tenuous. An article in the car parking section of the University’s website states that it is partly due to the costs of the pending City Council Workplace Parking Levy. The Levy, which will be introduced in April next year, is an annual charge made for each parking space that the University provides to its employees. However, these costs are being met by the money raised by staff parking permits rather than student permits; the full year permit charge for Nottingham staff exactly equals the cost of the annual levy.

Expanding the University’s environmental agenda is a further justification given by the University for the new charges, yet Nottingham’s green credentials are among the best in the world, having recently received second place in a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions. The majority of students we spoke to claimed that the new charges will not result in their leaving their cars at home as they need to use their cars to attend sports fixtures and commitments on campus, and they will simply have to pay the new charges.

So why has Nottingham really introduced these new policies? Perhaps those students who suspect that they are merely a way for the University to make some extra cash are right. In order to keep teaching standards high and general University facilities top-class, Nottingham obviously needs income. However, whilst even just one £50 parking ticket would be a significant inconvenience to a hard-up student, it is a relatively meagre amount when compared to the £20 million the University is spending on a new eco-friendly hotel, or even the thousands it will be raising from the increased tuition fees next year. The University’s first responsibility is to its students; surely it should prioritise their quality of life over raising a negligible amount of money.

Sabreena Zuleika and Shane Higgins

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8 Comments on this post.
  • D
    12 December 2011 at 20:07
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    You barely mention that staff have to pay for parking too. Staff are charged *far* more than students, particularly low grade or part time staff. Not all staff at the University are paid a fortune – very few are in fact. The University has to pay the WPL on every space not designated for visitors, so why on earth should students get free parking when the staff who make the place run have to pay? If it bothers you that much that students are charged the massive sum of fifty quid, band together and buy a car park in Beeston.

  • John
    12 December 2011 at 21:01
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    As a notts uni student I’ve experienced this problem first hand. My flat mates and I both serve with the Territorial Army whilst at uni and were attending a remembrance service in the Trent building as representatives of our regiment and guests of the vice chancellor. We marked in a marked bay, looked around for any signs to say we couldn’t, didn’t see any but left a note anyway stating who we were, why we were there and then time we would be returning – 1 hour later. Returned to find a parking fine attached to the window, called the number to protest and were told frankly there wasn’t anything we could do about and told us to promptly pay up or face further fines. Hardly a good representation of the university to visitors…

  • Dave
    13 December 2011 at 08:54
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    Security are also doing their best to fleece cyclists for no lights – even at times when it is still fairly light by any standards. I simply walk whenever I need to travel around campus as security have yet to find a way to fine people for this method of travel!

  • Parking Management
    13 December 2011 at 11:15
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    It’s sad to read that students are disappointed with the universities parking provisions. When it comes to enforcement, it’s important to implement a proactive, positive prevention policy i.e. punishing repeat offenders.

  • Rich
    13 December 2011 at 12:38
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    The regulations state:

    “Parking permits / vouchers or pay and display tickets are required to be displayed on vehicles on University campuses between 9.15am and 4.00pm weekdays”

    I therefore see no problem with parking a car on campus during the evening/weekend.

  • Matt
    15 December 2011 at 11:11
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    What a poor written article. Most of the arguments made here are complete tosh, particularly the bit about students simply using their cars to drive to sporting fixtures during the evenings (when charges do not apply, I might add). Before you dare to comment on tuition fee rises, do a bit of research into the whole debate first – you’ll find that the University isn’t simply profiteering from 9k fees, but must charge this in order to stay competitive and reduce the deficit caused by a total loss of teaching budget from the government. Finally, if you think a student’s quality of life is affected by a £50 parking ticket – why have they got the car in the first place then? Insurance, tax, MOT, petrol etc – if you can afford this, you can afford £5 a day to park in the pay and display.

  • Emily
    4 October 2012 at 13:30
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    I have received parking fines from the private parking company which operates on the University of Nottingham’s University Park campus which I intend to challenge: as a PhD student based on Sutton Bonington (SB) Campus I paid £30+ for a year’s permit to be able to park on SB campus. Then, on the odd occasion I went to park on the University Park (UP) campus, I parked in the visitors car park & paid and displayed like any other member of the public, as I was aware my SB permit did not extend to other university campuses. However I returned to find a parking ticket on my windscreen stating the reason as “parked in an unauthorised or restricted area”.

    So as I understand it, their reasoning for fining me is thus:
    Because I hold a permit for SB (for which I PAID £37) this means when I parked on the UP campus in the visitor’s car park (for which I have duly PAID for a ticket & displayed on my dashboard) by some cruel logic of theirs, I should be penalised & have to again PAY a fine which is essentially as a direct result of the fact I have PAID for a parking permit for SB campus!
    Has anyone else come across this outrageous and unnecessary ticketing before?

    • spiggles
      24 February 2016 at 00:58
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      Nope, always get the hopper bus whenever I go to UP it’s free and runs regularly. Bit crazy driving to campus to get on a bus to a different one but avoids this problem

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