Northumbria University
Northumbria University has been fined £400,000 for poisoning two students with caffeine Wiki Commons

A university in England has been fined for giving two students quantities of caffeine equivalent to 300 cups of coffee in a botched science experiment. The students were admitted to intensive care following the incident in 2015.

A representative of Northumbria University in Newcastle told a court that the institution was "deeply, genuinely sorry" for the mistake as it was fined £400,000 ($505,000) on Wednesday (25 January 2017).

At a hearing last month, staff admitted to giving two volunteers 30g of caffeine instead of 0.3g. A man was once killed by ingesting 18g of the stimulant.

A mathematical error was blamed for the mistake that saw Alex Rossetta and Luke Parkin, both in their 20s, rushed to A&E with racing hearts, shaking, vomiting and dizziness on 23 March 2015.

The calculation had been done on a mobile phone with a decimal point in the wrong place, according to the BBC.

"The resulting overdoses could easily have been fatal. It was clearly quite an amount of powder. During the preparation of the caffeine by the students the calculations had been incorrectly made," said counsel Adam Farrer.

He added: "They suffered violent side-effects within minutes of drinking it. There was dizziness, blurred vision, vomiting, shaking and rapid heartbeat. Both required hospital treatment. It was a life-threatening reaction."

Mr Farrer said: "A consultant toxicologist said they were both in a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. Had they not been admitted to intensive care they could have died from the caffeine overdoses," according to the Newcastle Chronicle.

Defence counsel Peter Smith said: "The university and all those involved are deeply and genuinely sorry for the breach in this case."

The second-year students lost 10kg and 12kg respectively after the incident. They have both made full recoveries.