It is with disappointment that the Student Caucus reports that recommendations from the Student Budget Consultation Report 2017/18 to promote and advance cost-saving open textbooks have so far been dismissed.

Students identified the high-cost of textbooks and course materials as a priority area for action. Seeking to take advantage of the free or low-cost open textbook model, the Report recommended incentives or supports for instructors to adopt open textbooks and a fellowship for instructors to create new open textbooks.

“The potential of open textbooks to reduce the cost of education is enormous,” said Mwansa Kaunda, Student Caucus Chair, “We looked to TRU to follow the lead of other universities that have worked to realize those benefits for their students.”

At universities across BC, teaching and learning centres provide support and resources for faculty who seek to make use of open education resources (i.e. SFU, UNBC, KPU, BCIT). Unfortunately, at TRU, the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) has no plans to take on such a role.

Interim Director of CELT, Dr. Sandra Vermeulen, provided the following response to the recommendations:

The CELT budget does not have incentives for use of open textbooks.  CELT does not provide ‘incentives’ for instructional faculty in their choice of teaching materials.  We will, however, review the pedagogical value of Open Textbooks, copyright issues, peer reviews, etc. and ensure this information is available to instructors.  CELT is committed to encouraging sound teaching practices that support students.  I am mindful that cost can effect access to education and, therefore, cost is an important consideration.

Meanwhile, the BC Open Textbook Project has, since its creation in 2012, been part of a global movement to support, manage, and distribute open textbooks. It also contributes to the growing understanding of the comparable or superior quality and functionality of open textbooks and related student outcomes.

“Students need more than an acknowledgement of well-known textbook cost pressures and a review of open textbooks,” Kaunda continued, “The government, universities and colleges, and instructors from across BC have already been working proactively on open textbooks for over four years. The lack of action from TRU is disappointing.”

To stay up-to-date on all of TRU’s responses to your priorities, check out the Student Budget Consultation webpage!

For more information please contact:

Mwansa Kaunda
Student Caucus Chair
(250) 828 – 5289
Alex McLellan
University Governance Coordinator
(250) 828 – 5289