An Open Letter to UBC

Dear Educators at UBC Vancouver: The AMS would like to commend you for all of the extra hours and hard work put into the restructuring of curriculum and adjusting to online platforms since earlier this year. We appreciate all the hard work and adaptability you have shown us, and wish to express our gratitude on behalf of all UBC students. The average student at UBC spends $884 on textbooks and other course materials according to the 2020 Academic Experience Survey (AES). [1] Along with that, 44% of current students generally are worried about how they’ll pay for textbooks and class materials. [2] It is evident that students’ socioeconomic status can act as a barrier for students to receive quality education. Oftentimes, students work around paying the full prices of textbooks by purchasing older versions from others or avoiding buying the textbook at all. We hope that you would consider joining the movement to make education more affordable and available to all through contributing to open education initiatives. In this time of uncertainty and with the continuation of online learning, the widespread adoption of open educational resources (OER) by UBC professors has been commendable for reducing financial barriers for students. At UBC Vancouver, there were 55 faculty & staff that were recognized as OER champions in the 2019/20 academic year. [3] These educators collectively saved students approximately $1.8 to 2.5 million on textbooks. [4] As an educator, you can contribute to equitable learning by making textbooks, lectures, and practice content freely available online, without barriers through open websites and platforms. This is a small commitment that can ease the growing financial burden that students face during these times of uncertainty. Open educational resources are “teaching and learning materials that are freely available online for everyone to use.”[5] These can include an incredibly wide variety of materials such as textbooks, videos, question banks, entire courses, and full sets of course materials. Instructors who choose to use OER are able to amend these materials to match the specific course they are teaching, therefore not having to fit the rigid material of a textbook to a unique course. Students are even able to take on roles as content creators, meaning they can be directly involved in their learning experience and participate within the scholarly community. There are many ways for professors to become involved with open education initiatives, and here are just a few:
  1. Adopt an openly licensed textbook or class materials for your class. Many options are ready to be used or edited to fit your specific needs. To find open textbooks,including BCcampus collections, go to the following guide:
  2. When utilizing homework tools or online learning materials made by third party vendors used for assessment, consider the Principles for Digital Learning Materials Used for Assessment endorsed by Senate. These principles provide guidance on the best practices to take into consideration student affordability, accessibility, and agency. Examples include a $65 cap on these materials, per three credit course and 20% of total course mark.
  3. Use Creative Commons licensing on your work to let other people know they can use it. This can be applied to anything from articles to PowerPoint slides. You can learn more about open licensing and its implications for your scholarship at
  4. Create new Open Educational Resources. UBC offers many grants and supports for the development of OER. Apply to the brand-new Open Education Resource Fund, which is committing $250,000 in annual funding for the next three years to support OER initiatives at UBC.
This is a great opportunity for educators to support a campaign that stands for equitable learning and ensuring affordability during a time of financial insecurity amongst students. With this shift toward online learning, these resources are extremely needed now more than ever. If you would like to learn more about open education, please follow this link to Open UBC: We appreciate all of the hardwork and flexibility displayed by our educators during this time, and we are confident that you will support our university’s commitment to affordable and accessible education. We hope you will join us in promoting equity in the classroom by keeping the cost of course materials low and adopting open alternatives. Please express your support by signing this open letter through the link below. Sign this open letter Sincerely, The Alma Mater Society Sources :

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