Campaign fights back against textbook sticker shock

by | Sep 28, 2018 | News

Kehinde Akanbi
News Reporter

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) relaunched its social media campaign this month to show how expensive textbooks are getting.

The #TextbookBroke campaign is designed to make sure students don’t have to spend as much as they currently do on textbooks, in addition to paying for tuition and other fees. The cost of textbooks serves as one of the learning barriers for students who can’t afford them.

OUSA reached out to many students through various social media channels and the feedback is the same: textbooks cost too much. The Alliance is working with the Ontario government to make sure that post-secondary education in Ontario is affordable and accessible for every student.

Sophie Helpard, the executive director of the Alliance, said the campaign wants students to share their receipts online and offer suggestions where they would prefer the money go. The group is also advocating the government and educational institutions adopt the use of open educational resources.

“I think we want to gather more students together and asked them how much they are spending on textbooks and what that money could be used for,” she said. “Then ultimately make sure that we can get more investment into the Open Textbook Library so that more students are able to access it.”

The first #TextbookBroke campaign in January got feedback from hundreds of students. Every student said the cost of textbooks is too high and the money they spent could have been used on something else, such as food.

“I find every textbook here really expensive. I feel sorry for students including myself because we have to pay $200 for textbooks,” said Dawit Tefsa, a second-year sports management Humber College student who works at the Humber bookstore.

Some textbooks are in the price range of $500.

“The prices of textbooks are unbelievable,” said Andre David, a second-year business management student at Humber College. “I actually didn’t buy a textbook for one of my classes because it was too expensive.”

While some students are able to afford the required textbooks, others find it difficult to come up with the cash although the books are essential for their classes. Some students wait until the very last minute to purchase these textbooks but by then they are too far into the course.

The Ontario government invested $1 million to support eCampus Ontario to develop the Open Textbook Library, an online catalog providing textbooks for students at little or no cost. The Alliance said that investment helped Ontario students save about $1.7 million in textbook costs.

A Statistics Canada report in 2015 showed college grads averaged about $14,900 in debt while bachelor and master grads carried debts of about $26,000 and doctorate graduates averaged a debt of $41,100.