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Do other people's Universities also charge their PhD students to print their final theses? (UK)


User: KKerr - 15 March 2021 17:11

Hello,

Looking for a general consensus if possible. I've just had my PhD thesis corrections accepted, which was a fantastic feeling, right up until the printing services quoted me £215 to print three copies of my hardbound dissertation. To break that down a bit, that's £92 for two B&W copies which are *mandatory* by the University for submission and £125 for one colour copy which I had hoped to keep for myself.

I managed to reduce the fee to £175 by removing my supplementary files - but holy crap that's so much money! I was instructed that under no uncertain terms would the University help with the payment (Queen's University Belfast), and I would need to pay for it out of my own pocket. I can understand the University not covering the personal copy (although you'd think with how much money they rake in they would allow you one personal copy), but surely they should be obligated to pay the £94 which is mandatory for completing a supposedly "funded" PhD?

I will be able to pay, but this made me think about students who might not be in a financial position to afford this, surely this policy is discriminatory?

Would anyone from Universities who do offer the printing of library copies (I know there are quite a few from a little research), have any advice on how they got this service? I feel like this is something that should be changed for future students.

Thanks,
Katie

User: glimmerbat - 16 March 2021 10:35

I'm afraid this is pretty normal. Just in the same way that attending graduation and hiring gowns and so on is also extremely expensive and some students genuinely can't attend graduation because they can't afford it (as was my case). Like many low income students I couldn't afford my own contributor copy, let alone a full colour one. I sent my parents the pdf.

I think you might want to think extremely carefully about describing this as "discriminatory" since you (a) have the means to pay for it and (b) part of the cost is something you want for your own private purposes.

Discrimination would be being asked at PhD admission stage if you could afford to pay for your final printing, then being told you couldn't do a PhD without proving you had at least £200 of savings to cover it.

In my University, about 200 students finish PhDs every year. Do you think a University would rather spend £60,000 per year on printing student theses, or on hiring a new full-time lecturer for undergraduate teaching? What do you think is better value for money?

User: PhDhere - 16 March 2021 11:22

I printed my PhD thesis (3 copies) in the printshop of my university using my research budget code (with supervisor approval). This is the same budget code i use to buy consumables and chemicals. The 3 copies cost around £150 for 200 pages thesis all coloured.

User: rewt - 16 March 2021 11:25

Does your university or a nearby print shop offer a binding service? At my uni most people print it themselves and get their thesis bound for £20-40 each.

User: Nead - 16 March 2021 15:23

In my uni (Ireland) we had to bear the cost ourselves. In my uni, we had to give on the cost to the college, and you are expected to ask your supervisors if they require them. Two out of four of my supervisors did- thankfully they gave me money for their version. It cost over 450 euro for 4 copies with the company I went with.

Its not discrimiitory. Surely most will know about this cost from previous students and should budget accordingly. I know personally, I had but money aside form my last few stipends to cover the full cost, and equally was grateful when not all supervisors required them and offered to pay for their version.

As rewt said you can print yourself and get it bound for cheaper- in my case I would have to have to print each copy and then drive over an hour away to get it bound s it was easier to get them to do it all and post it to me.

User: abababa - 18 March 2021 01:12

Welcome to the reality of academia; where many people without any research interest or integrity have discovered it's easy to make a quick buck.

Journal publication fees? Sure, 500Eur for taking the perfectly-formatted manuscript you asked for from the author, and printing it out or exporting to PDF and publishing online. The actual work reviewing it will be done for free by academics, because prestige and CoI otherwise.

Better still, go open-access so you don't even have to print anything, just take a .docx, save as .pdf, pocket 500 - 1500Eur. And Unis will demand academics use you, because you're open access and it's a mandatory REF-criteria! :)

Sit your publishing company near a Uni and get cosy, so they recommend you, and printing/binding ~200 A4 sides is easily a 200Eur+ job, even though it takes 5 minutes and costs next to nothing. Because who'd fail their PhD for the sake of that 200Eur?

This is a bit of an oversimplification. But it's how it's got; and it's now in such a mess for such a long time, it's become the norm. I have PhD students approached by publishers who are offering them to 'publish' (i.e. stick online) their thesis for a massive fee. This invariable involves signing off the copyright for 3-5 years of their hard work and actually paying money to do it.

It's ludicrous, but it's where we've gotten to.

User: cucaracha - 18 March 2021 10:19


Do you think a University would rather spend £60,000 per year on printing student theses, or on hiring a new full-time lecturer for undergraduate teaching? What do you think is better value for money?

Universities can absa flipping lutely afford to spend a mere £60k on printing student theses. It would show some appreciation for their hard-working graduate students, who are underpaid on stipends as it is. It would hardly scratch the Chancellor's ludicrous salary.

This is just another way to flip the bird to its students, telling us we are so far down the institution's list of priorities.

User: glimmerbat - 19 March 2021 09:06

I asked if it was value for money. It's £200-300, after a studentship of around £50,000 or more (not including all the admin costs that go into a single studentship).

PhD students ARE far down the institution's lists of priorities. If undergraduate teaching didn't exist there would be no way of paying the salaries of our supervisors. If there was a shortage of teaching staff then our supervisors would have to take on another module and not have time to supervise us or apply for the grants that pay our stipends.

In the last few years it has become extremely fashionable for PhD students to be extremely vocal about how unfair and oppressive the "system" is. This usually involves sending a million angry emails to professors and support staff in the name of "making everything better." Usually these are about trivial problems that can't even be fixed, which just wastes a lot of time that could go on something more useful. This is particularly unfair on support staff, most of whom would absolutely love to have the opportunity to do a PhD. It is now becoming quite common for staff in graduate schools to spend 3-4 years being harassed by the same group of students who absolutely delight in any "injustice" they can get upset about. But these are often deep and complex problems that can't be immediately fixed, and the students rarely offer any practical solution beyond "let's fire all the professors and start again" or "we can pay for it out of the Vice Chancellor's salary."

These are idiotic, time-wasting arguments because even if the "problem" were to be solved, it would never come out of the VC's salary. No "solution" to any "problem" is ever going to come out of the VC's salary no matter how angry you choose to get. It would instead come out of some other part of a budget, meaning a genuine loss of opportunity for another person. Would you like to a rare academic job to be axed for the sake of student printing? Do you think that's "fair" on the young, hard-working postdoc who wants a permanent job to start a family? Or perhaps it can come out of a department's travel or training budget instead, meaning a working-class student can't go to a life-changing conference just so a middle-class student gets a full colour thesis on her IKEA bookshelf? Is that "justice"? Is that "sticking it to the man" and "proving that PhD students are important to the institution"? Is that worthy of a long Twitter rant and many hours of stress for all the underappreciated professional staff having to deal with more complaints about long-standing policies that are "discriminatory" towards some hypothetical, non-existent student?

Maybe Katie can start a fund to help working class students get their own thesis contributor copy.

User: rewt - 19 March 2021 10:50

Has glimmerbat been removed for that post?

User: FAULauren - 19 March 2021 16:11

Hi,

This user wasn't removed by our team!

Thank you :)

User: cucaracha - 20 March 2021 01:07

... sounds like 'Removed62360' needs therapy to work through all their issues lol! Imagine typing out long dull essays about how PhD students should accept rubbish treatment and never speak out about issues, and getting triggered over suggestions that Vice Chancellors are overpaid greedy twits...

Luckily at my uni (an excellent Russell Group), the staff encourage us to speak out about areas for improvement no matter how complex because they actively want to improve the system rather than cling to outdated 'long-standing policies' for the sake of tradition :)

User: abababa - 20 March 2021 02:36

Quote From cucaracha:
... sounds like 'Removed62360' needs therapy to work through all their issues lol! Imagine typing out long dull essays about how PhD students should accept rubbish treatment and never speak out about issues, and getting triggered over suggestions that Vice Chancellors are overpaid greedy twits...

Luckily at my uni (an excellent Russell Group), the staff encourage us to speak out about areas for improvement no matter how complex because they actively want to improve the system rather than cling to outdated 'long-standing policies' for the sake of tradition :)

It is so disappointing as a student at an 'excellent Russell group' you think and write like this.

User: Cat123 - 20 March 2021 08:58

I'm at a Russel Group University and have been subjected to victimisation as a result of speaking out about behaviours that I can only describe as bullying. I have just had to persevere with very little support.
I can only hope that Removed62360 does not ever get a job in a University given the views that they have.
I think if Universities require printing to be done they should cover costs. It is also my view that electronic submissions should be accepted and that hard copy submissions should not be mandatory. This also lessens environmental impact.

User: Cat123 - 20 March 2021 09:01

I see from other posts 'Removed62360' was 'glimmerbat', who now seems to be a postdoc.

User: cucaracha - 20 March 2021 21:05

Quote From abababa:
It is so disappointing as a student at an 'excellent Russell group' you think and write like this.[/quote]

How is it disappointing for PhD students to want better treatment?! So sorry that you benefit from the status quo or are afraid of change, but I'm afraid you're fighting a losing battle as people are increasingly demanding better.

There is nothing wrong with the way I'm writing, if you had any friends you'd know that normal people type differently in informal chats than in academic writing xD


[quote]Quote From Cat123:
I can only hope that Removed62360 does not ever get a job in a University given the views that they have.
I think if Universities require printing to be done they should cover costs. It is also my view that electronic submissions should be accepted and that hard copy submissions should not be mandatory. This also lessens environmental impact.

Agreed!! :)
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