As the prices of textbooks continue to rise, Washington college students are organizing to push professors into adopting more open access textbooks. The goal is to provide faculty with the option of free or low cost textbooks and create competition with publishers, who may respond by lowering their prices.

Recently, the University of Washington Student Senate unanimously passed a resolution encouraging professors to consider using open access textbooks and other less-expensive materials. The resolution does not require professors to choose open access materials; however, it will provide them with information and assistance.

At Tacoma Community College, students voted to use student funds for a pilot project to assist professors in identifying online materials suitable for textbook substitutions. The college’s student government hired an OER (open educational resource) specialist to help professors find low-cost or free alternatives to traditional textbooks.

The Tacoma pilot project, currently in its second year, is regarded as a success by the college. Within its first nine months, it was able to pay for itself through student savings. College officials have estimated that the project has saved students around $643,000 in total.

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