Printing Should Be Free


I shouldn’t have to pay for printing at university. I shouldn’t have to leave the library if I want free printing. I don’t have to justify that. I don’t have to explain my line of reasoning. You can’t expect students to take out a minimum loan of £9,250 from the government, or a minimum of £14,000 for international students, only for authorities to fall short of providing them with the necessary facilities they’ll need to succeed.  


The Student Union did what it could to resolve the issue. They installed a printer run by AIWIP (now Printt) in the Hub, but to gain access to it, you needed to download a mobile application, which you would then have to use your laptop to transfer documents to. Other requirements included having to be near the printer for the job to go through, ignoring the endless Toms ads that appeared at the bottom of every page, and patiently waiting your turn because there is only one machine available for an innumerable number of broke students who probably spent their spare change on a Sainsburys meal deal. I shouldn’t have to do all of this just to print out my coursework for free.  



I know printing is “like, 5p”. That’s not a big deal for a lot of people and it wasn’t a big deal to me at first. I’m fortunate enough to have my parents to cover my rent, my tuition fees, and a portion of my maintenance – this is not what it’s like for others. I have the time to work as a well paid waitress, so cash tips are great for my printing trust fund – but that’s not how it’s supposed to be like.  


The Independent reported that Queen Mary had the “highest entrants from the lowest social classes,” with 37% of our undergraduate students coming from low income backgrounds. This is a statistic we should be proud of because we’re pioneering the way for more inclusivity in Russell Group education. It’s also a statistic that our finance offices are upholding by providing students from these backgrounds with bursaries and scholarships. We’re creating an open space that invites students to take pride in who they are, where they’re coming from, and where they’d like to be. However, just because they got here, doesn’t mean they should struggle to stay here.  


I shouldn’t have to spend my tips on printing. British students shouldn’t have to spend their maintenance on printing. International students who can afford Prada bags shouldn’t have to spend their money on printing. When we came to university, we were told that the administration and the Student Union would do everything they could to guide us, support us, and make things easier on us. They’re clearly doing what they can and I’m sure they’re overstretched with other demands, but I don’t see why making the printers in the library free isn’t a resolved matter already. If it’s about recycling, then we need to collaborate with Green Mary to find the best alternative. This creates a network between a student-led society, our Union, and our administration that is conducive to the task at hand, and incentivizes student engagement. If it’s about the economic jargon I can’t understand from last year’s financial statements, then somebody please explain it to me.  



Student facilities, like printing, should be covered either by the tuition fees or university funding. Several students agree with this proposition. Some have gone so far as to suggest that printing is just “another way we’re getting scammed out of our futures.” This sounds dramatic, but dramatic was the fit I had when I put £7 into my library balance last Tuesday only for it to be wiped out before reading week. Maybe it’s me? I fall into the large number of people who can’t read off a screen because it’ll either induce a migraine or distract me. I love annotating my documents with colorful markers and comments I doubt I’ll understand later because I find it easier to refer back to when I’m writing an essay. I’m not going to change that, because I shouldn’t have to.   


I know it seems silly to be so passionate about a 5p charge, but I’m a SPIR student who prints out documents religiously, and this isn’t exclusive to the humanities students. I’ve argued with students who’ve dismissed me because “who cares, it’s just spare change”, but spare change is a luxury for people like me who are too irresponsible to remember to bring their wallet when they have to top-up their Oyster. Also, nobody should have to read The Leviathan off a computer screen.  


If we were able to keep the library open 24/7, I’m sure we can provide students with free and sustainable printing. If there’s a legitimate reason why it’s not feasible to do so, then why haven’t we been given it yet?  


2 thoughts on “Printing Should Be Free

  1. How would you address the case that if printing was free, students could abuse it and simply waste paper. By charging students it encourages them to use less paper. Many state schools, which although are free still continue to charge a fee for printing where students may be given a allocated amount at the beginning of the school year. A similar case is more and more companies are introducing e-bills, where customers no longer receive their statements by post and instead are able to look at them on the internet, obviously the catalyst behind this is to create a “greener” planet.

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