The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday October 19th

Letter: OERs save students and university money


On Jan. 25th, NCPIRG’s chapter at UNC-Chapel Hill presented their “Action Plan for Affordable Textbooks”, a new report investigating high prices for textbooks. 

This comprehensive report evaluated 40 non-profit colleges and counted the number of students in each course in Fall 2017. 

They then identified the “core” courses most frequently taught most across the country in order to arrive at an accurate cost basis.

The report found that for classes requiring textbooks bundled with an access code, the average price was $153 regardless of whether the textbook in the bundle was digital or printed. 

For classes without a bundled access code, $117 was the norm because students can get a used textbook for the course. 

However, there is a solution to these high costs. 

In this sample of 40 schools alone, switching core classes to Open Educational Resources would save $13 million a semester. 

OER are peer-reviewed and faculty written courseware that are 100 percent free. 

If enacted nationwide, students could save $1.5 billion a year.

At UNC-Chapel Hill, NCPIRG students are trying to make this a reality by calling on their campus Library System to continue their support of Open textbooks further by implementing a sustainable grant program to help professors peer review, customize and create new OER. 

If every course at UNC received adequate funding, students could see savings of roughly 2 million dollars a year. 

If you are a parent or student, we urge you to reach out to the university and professors to institutionalize OER usage.

Kent McKane



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