Bylaws and Policies

Political Policy Academic Materials

Expires: April 30, 2021

1 Facts

  1. The true cost of being a student is composed of many factors, such as tuition, fees, cost of living, foregone wages, and academic materials.
  2. The University of Alberta estimates that a student should expect to spend $1750 on academic materials.
  3. The rate of textbook price increases have exceeded the rate of inflation over the last decade.
  4. Publishers often introduce newer and more expensive editions of textbooks in rapid succession without necessarily undertaking substantial content revision, which adversely affects the used textbook market, leading students to incur higher costs in affording academic materials.
  5. Students can recover part of the cost of their textbooks by selling them as used books, and students can usually acquire a textbook for a lower price by buying used. There are also many opportunities to acquire academic materials at a discounted price or for free.
  6. Online textbooks that are either leased or may only be single access use cannot be sold to recover part of the cost.
  7. Course instructors are the primary decision-makers in terms of setting academic materials for their courses.
  8. The use of additional and online academic tools and platforms (such as learning management systems, online assignments, material aimed at enhancing self-evaluation by students), are increasingly being offered by publishers for a nominal cost and are becoming more widespread.
  9. The tools and platforms used to offer additional academic material to students often vary by publishers and are not standardized across courses and faculties, leading to additional expenses for students.
  10. The use of mandatory access codes in courses impose a further financial burden on students already paying for instructional costs of post-secondary education.
  11. The Government of Canada already has mechanisms in place for Goods and Services Tax (GST) exemptions.
  12. There are no provincial sales taxes levied on books for Canadian provinces that use a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).
  13. The Book Importation Regulations approved by the Governor General in Council in July 1999 allowed book importers to charge a premium of 10% on books imported from the United States and 15% on books from any other country.[1]
  14. Students may access copyrighted material for scholarship as has been codified.
  15. There are many opportunities to acquire academic materials at a discounted price or for free.
  16. Open Educational Resources (OER) are resources, such as textbooks, course materials, video clips, images, infographics, multimedia applications, or whole courses that have been designed for use in teaching and learning that are freely available and published with an open license which permits users to reuse, revise, remix, retain, and redistribute them (known as the "5Rs").

2 Resolutions

  1. The the Students’ Union will advocate for academic materials to be as affordable and accessible as possible.
  2. The Students’ Union will advocate that courses with online learning platforms and interactive academic materials should not impose costs already covered by tuition.
  3. The Students’ Union will advocate against students bearing the burden of extra costs that occur through importation, delivery or other tariffs, taxes, and fines associated with academic materials (regardless of any changes in PST, HST, or GST regulation).
  4. The Students’ Union will publicize and promote the various ways that students can save money on academic materials.
  5. The Students’ Union will raise awareness among educators and instructors of more affordable alternatives available to them.
  6. The Students’ Union will advocate to the University and the government to support the development and utilization of Open Educational Resources.

3 References

  1. Government of Canada. Accessed Jan 2, 2013. “Book Importation Regulations. SOR/99-324. Copyright Act”. Justice Laws Website.