March 15, 2016 7:17 pm
Updated: March 15, 2016 7:41 pm

Free textbooks for students at U of R, part of pilot project


REGINA – For university students, the high costs of textbooks is a conversation that comes up every semester.

Textbooks can cost a pretty penny, and often times they can become outdated within a few years.

“You pay your tuition, and then you have your rent and your food and everything’s covered, and then you get to the bookstore, and you realize you have a thousand dollars of material you have to buy.”

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It’s why the University of Regina Press is launching a pilot project hoping to help turn the page on expensive book prices.

The provincial government will be investing $83,000 in the program during its first year.

“We are working with faculty to create textbooks that will be made available online for free,” University of Regina Press director Bruce Walsh explained.

U of R professor Mary Vetter is already using an open-access textbook in her biology course.

She said using the free online textbook has several benefits.

“The cost is one for students, but it’s the principle or the philosophy of equal access to this information. So we’re not discriminating indirectly among students based on what they can afford,” Vetter said.

The U of R Press has already published one open textbook titled “Free Knowledge: Confronting the Commodification of Human Discovery”.

It’s hoping to publish at least three free online textbooks by 2018, and is calling on faculty members of the school to take up the challenge.

“It’s really going to level the playing field between the haves and have nots,” Walsh said.

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