When it comes to higher education, the discussion often shifts to cost and affordability, but it’s not just tuition costs that are increasing.
Textbook costs are skyrocketing as well.
Some students and faculty at West Virginia University recently participated in a national study by the non-profit advocacy organization U.S. Public Interest Research Group called “Open 101: an Action Plan for Affordable Textbooks”, which looked at textbook affordability on a national scale.
Those same members of the WVU community are also taking action to make sure students on campus have access to the materials they need.
“What can we do better in the state of West Virginia and generate efficiencies and savings not only for students in higher education, but for the taxpayer in K though 12 education?” asked WVU Student Government Association Blake Humphrey.
The answer to his question coming from WVU is to work toward providing more open educational resources.
Data shows that 66% of students nationwide borrow money to go to college and it’s in West Virginia. 69% of students in the mountain state borrow roughly $30,000 for their education.
“Those costs account to a lot of things,” said Karen Diaz, Interim Dean of WVU Libraries. “They account for tuition and fees, room and board uh personal expenses and transportation.”
And textbooks, more than $1,000 a year to be exact. While some costs students can’t control, this one they can.
One of the solutions to the rising costs is open textbooks, which are available digitally for free.
“Especially for some of the lower division courses, the intro courses, there are really good resources available for faculty to take advantage of and to save the students money,” Diaz added.
She said faculty isn’t always aware of these resources.
“The publishers will come to them and work on selling materials, but no one comes to them to say here are open options,” continued Diaz.
WVU is providing options for its faculty, who are even creating their own affordable materials.
Those working on affordability want the campus to know one important detail, that free doesn’t mean low quality.
“Professors and faculty members that are writing course material that goes though the same standards” Humphrey explained. “It’s peer reviewed. It’s just published under a different license.”
Coming up on Friday on 12 News, you’ll see how WVU is helping faculty tap into these affordable resources and how the University’s efforts have gone the whole way to the state legislature.