A London university has taken drastic - some would say draconian - steps to stop academics booking rooms and then failing to use them.
In an attempt to ensure that staff use space efficiently, City University administrators have imposed hefty fines on academics who leave lecture halls vacant and have employed, temporarily, "room police" to patrol corridors to seek out and identify suspect transgressors. Plans are now in hand to introduce cameras.
Administrators began imposing fines for unused rooms after a recent survey revealed that 400 hours of bookings for rooms went unused and that Pounds 800,000 a year was spent on external room hire.
The first known victim of the sting was the department of journalism and publishing, which last month was fined £500 - reduced to £100 on appeal - Jafter lecturers sent students on a practical exercise and left a classroom empty.
Anna McKane, programme director for the BA journalism and contemporary history course, said: "The fines are ridiculous. I asked for a room for 15 people, which I admittedly did not use for the whole booking period. I was allocated a room that fits 79 people and fined £500."
But the university has seen dozens more room cancellations than ever before.
City said: "It is only right and proper that any university continually examines and reviews the way it uses its facilities and ensures that money is not unnecessarily being spent."