UBC students saving up to $1.4 million with open textbooks

By Heather McCabe posted on December 5th, 2016

The number of UBC students using open textbooks has doubled since last year, according to a report on open textbooks published by the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology.

More than 8,000 students are using open or free textbooks in the 2016 academic year, representing a savings of $843,000 to $1,400,000 that would have been spent on traditionally published textbooks.

The Math department represents the largest example of adoption. Instructors in the department have adopted open textbooks or developed their own freely available textbooks in all first-year courses and most second-year courses.

In addition to documenting the use of open textbooks at UBC in the past five years, the report looks at trends in textbook use in North America and more specifically at UBC. For example, in Canada, textbook costs have risen by 2.44 times the rate of inflation since 2008, according to the Canadian Federation of Students. In the United States, textbook prices have increased by 88 percent in the last 10 years compared to a 63 percent increase in tuition and fees, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

A survey conducted earlier this year by the Alma Mater Society at UBC found that the average UBC student spends $650 on textbooks per year. Seventy-five percent of students said that they have not bought a textbook due to cost on at least one occasion, and 37 percent said that they frequently or often do not purchase textbooks due to cost.