Textbook prices have long been a grievance that can quickly and steeply increase the overall cost of higher education.
Members of the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska Academic Committee are working to fix that.
The Academic Committee’s main priority is for professors at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to move toward using Inclusive Access, a method of procuring textbooks for classes that differs from the traditional individual orders. Using Inclusive Access, professors can select online texts for their classes and receive access codes automatically, allowing students to have access to the materials as soon as necessary.
Through this service, academic committee members said they hope students can receive the same education for a lower price.
“I think students deserve a quality education without having to pay an extra arm and a leg,” said Erin Kruger, Academic Committee member and junior English and political science double major.
Inclusive Access can cut the cost for students because textbooks are ordered en masse instead of individually, according to Academic Committee member Madison Kraus, a senior biological sciences major.
Kraus said professors can indicate that they would like to participate in Inclusive Access when selecting a book for their class. They then receive a class set of books, the cost of which are automatically added to each student’s fees that semester.
This method guarantees that every student enrolled in the class purchases a book, increasing the volume and allowing the publisher to lower the price of each individual copy, according to VitalSource, an e-textbook provider.
“If you buy through [Inclusive Access], it's way cheaper than if you get single textbooks,” Kraus said.
According to Kraus and Kruger, some of the faculty at UNL have started using Inclusive Access resources through UNL’s Successful Teaching and Affordable Resources initiative, but it is currently too soon to evaluate the service’s effectiveness.
Additionally, the committee hopes UNL classrooms will eventually implement Open Educational Resources, which are similar in theory to Inclusive Access. OER are free and reusable non-copyrighted resources that institutions and teaching officials can utilize for their classes, according to the OER Commons website.
The Academic Committee will host a booth in the Nebraska Union on Wednesday, Jan. 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with the intention of educating students on the existence and merits of how to lower textbook costs, Kruger said.
“Before I joined the Academic Committee, I didn’t even have a clue about what [Inclusive Access] was,” she said. “I think it’s important to reach out to students about Inclusive Access and why it’s important.”
Students who visit the booth can grab a pre-made postcard that they can fill out containing information about Inclusive Access and expressing support for cheaper textbook alternatives. These postcards can be given to professors to show support for the program. For students who may be apprehensive about interacting with their professor directly, there will also be a mailing list where students can record their professor’s email and the committee will send them information.
“I think, right now, students just think that they have to pay $400 for books every semester because that’s just the way it is,” Kraus said. “No one really realizes that we do have a say, and there are other options.”