Abuse Curbed by Print Quota System

by Joe Lee
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With a view to resolving the laser printing problem in the Computing Services Centre (CSC), the CSC has conducted a pilot run of print monitoring system in the three large terminal rooms and then the other teaching studios as well from mid December 2003 to mid January 2004 (i.e. the semester break). During this period, the students were well informed of it and no quota was set for them. From the data captured (mainly from the three large terminal rooms), 3,509 students printed more than 350,000 pages, including 33 students who printed over 1,000 pages individually. We monitored the print queues online and reminded several students to print course-related materials only. We noted that one particular student had printed over 2,700 pages within one day.

After studying the standard provision of laser printing service of other local universities, we began a trial run and started with an initial print quota of 400 pages per student in Semester B 2004. This quota is so far the most generous among all tertiary institutions. When the print quota is exhausted or not enough to support a print job, the print job will be rejected. For trial purpose, students are allowed to unlimitedly extend the print quota at 200 pages per application.

By the end of Week 6 of Semester B (February 2004), the following printing statistics have been collected:

Pages Printed
1-100
101-200
201-300
301-400
401-500
501-600
601-700
701-800
>800
Students
4,558
2,721
1,690
1,369
173
86
11
10
4
% of Students
42.91
25.62
15.91
12.89
1.63
0.81
0.10
0.09
0.04

A total of 10,622 students have printed 1,635,891 pages since the start of semester B. The maximum number of pages printed by individual students was 1,095 (one student). Also, we received 471 applications for quota extension from 425 students, and below is a summary of the applications:

Application for Quota Extension
1
2
3
4
5
Students
387
32
5
0
1

It was observed that after the quota system (trial run) was announced, students knew that there was a quota for their printing, and they became more cautious. The majority (68.5%) used less than half of their print quota by the middle of Semester B.

On 28 January 2004, we had a meeting with the student representatives of the CSC User Group. We explained to them how the quota system came into play, the detailed implementation of the system and our plan on it. We also took note of the concerns raised by the student representatives, and their valuable comments would be considered.

In conclusion, the quota system seems promising in resolving the laser printing problem in the CSC. Future enhancement of the system and development of a charge-back mechanism for quota extension are underway. When Semester B ends, we will summarize the usage statistics, findings, and comments from students to modify the system and streamline our support. We hope that the deployment of this quota system can help us meet our students' printing need.