University of Canberra students are racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in parking fines because of a shortage of spaces on campus, members of its student association say.
The ACT government collected more than half a million dollars worth of parking fines from the university's Bruce campus last financial year, figures from Access Canberra showed.
And University of Canberra Students' Association president Nawaf Ibrahim said the parking jam was about to get worse, with almost 500 extra beds opening up at a new on-campus residence next year.
"As the university grows and more and more students are joining and we are not seeing adequate parking spots being put into place and there's a new accommodation block [Cooper Lodge 2] coming up which is going to have like over 500 beds and the university is increasing parking by 150 spots for that, which is a ridiculously small number," he said.
UCSA welfare officer Terry Watson was once fined for parking outside Cooper Lodge while taking his groceries inside.
He said people were parking illegally out of necessity.
"A lot of it can be put down to capacity issues. Demand's been up and down, especially over the last semester but last semester during peak times, between 10am and 3pm, we've had literally zero permit parks on campus," Mr Watson said.
"In a number of instances the people are parking illegally because they have to. There's a massive lecture theatre here, Building 14, and the lecture parking gets taken up around there and people end up parking on the street and they get fined just for attending a class."
Students can buy an annual parking permit for $350 but that won't guarantee them a spot.
Mr Watson, who has been hit with $600 worth of fines, said the fines took a disproportionate slice out of the low incomes of many students.
"The fines being handed out are anywhere from $102 to $228 assuming it's just the parking inspectors on campus. When ACT Policing come it's a lot higher," Mr Watson said.
"$228 is basically $20 off a week of my rent. Students shouldn't have to choose between being liable to a government and making rent simply for trying to find a car park."
Adding salt to the wound was the fact that the uni doesn't see any of the money being collected from fines on its campus.
"The worst thing about this situation is that of the $500,000, none of it goes to the university to improve parking," Mr Ibrahim said.
A University of Canberra spokeswoman confirmed the fines were "processed and retained by the ACT government".
However, she said the uni had already spent $1.4 million this year to provide more parking spaces on campus and to upgrade existing parking.
"The university is also undertaking its Capital Development Program to assess future car parking needs," she said.
She said the university had taken steps to alleviate the parking problems the new accommodation block would pose.
"Construction of our newest student accommodation began late last year to help meet increasing demand for on-campus accommodation," the spokeswoman said.
"Prior to the start of construction, additional accessible and motorcycle spaces were added to the car park near Building 25. The car park close to Building 7, the closest existing car park to the area, was also extended providing more than 150 spaces and new footpaths, CCTV coverage and lighting was also installed."