WT signs deal with 2 publishers to provide free textbooks (2024)

CANYON Two major textbook publishers have inked deals with West Texas A&M University that will allow the university to provide textbooks and other educational resources free of charge to students beginning in the fall.

WT has purchased a campus license from both Cengage and McGraw Hill that will provide students digital textbooks and ancillary materials, including digital learning platforms, mobile apps and more.

The university is committing “significant time and energy” to provide textbooks, said WT President Walter V. Wendler, fulfilling his pledge made in January.

Wendler’s pledge was to provide textbooks for core courses at no cost for students; the final deal also allows faculty and students to take advantage of high quality, no-cost-to-student resources in all WT classes.

Students will not be assessed additional fees for the service.

“Over-indebtedness continues to a challenge for many college students,” Wendler said in a news release. “This effort, when fully implemented, could save our students hundreds per year. The good work of the faculty and staff in working through this effort is deeply appreciated.”

Ultimately, the plan should offer a net savings of nearly $5 million a year for students.

“Depending on a student’s major, they can save $800 per semester or more,” said Mike Knox, vice president for enrollment services. “WT is excited about this opportunity to create significant savings for our students.”

Cengage’s license allows faculty members to curate content from multiple texts for use in their courses with no additional costs to students. Print textbooks also will be available to rent or purchase by students, if they wish.

“Our extensive library of content covers a wide range of subjects and disciplines, ensuring that WT can meet the diverse needs of its student body,” said Emily Moak, business development director with Cengage.

“We’re excited to be part of this important initiative that will continue to help reduce costs for students while giving them access to the quality materials they need to succeed in their courses,” said Kent Peterson, chief marketing officer for higher education at McGraw Hill.

Among the McGraw Hill benefits provided through the partnership with WT are mobile apps allowing students and faculty to access ebooks offline, the Sharpen study app for students, and more.

“WT’s subscription agreements will give faculty members and students access to digital content from two of the most reputable publishers in the world,” said Dr. Neil Terry, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs. “The agreements will facilitate student access to textbook and ancillary materials, provide significant savings to students, and support academic rigor.”

Emily Hunt, dean of WT’s College of Engineering, said her faculty is pleased that WT developed this plan with two top-tier publishing houses.

“We are excited to move into the next phase of course content and textbook usage through collaboration with these esteemed publishers,” Hunt said. “We respect the expertise of our faculty members at the University, who are doing incredible work in their respective fields, and we’re glad to have reached a consensus that benefits both faculty and students. Our goal is to ensure that our students have access to the most up-to-date, legitimate resources at a very low cost.”

Students have generous access to computer labs across campus and specifically to high-capacity printers in the Marmaduke Internet Innovation Center, where they can print up to 3,000 pages per semester. That limit was doubled to help facilitate the free-to-students digital textbook initiative, said James Webb, vice president for information technology and chief information officer.

“We believe this increase will make it easier for students to access and utilize academic materials, ultimately supporting their educational journey,” Webb said.

In August, Wendler announced an ambitious vision to eliminate most textbook-related costs for all WT students. He then began a series of meetings with administrators, faculty and students in every college, then set up a blue-ribbon committee to work on a plan of action.

University funds also have been budgeted to pay for instructional materials for core courses that are not available via the selected publishers or through open educational resources, or OER.

WT has aggressively pursued more open educational resource texts; in the past six years, OER utilization has risen from 5 percent to 22 percent across the University. OER materials are teaching resources that are in the public domain or are released under intellectual property licenses that permit free use, adaptation and redistribution.

Students may incur textbook expenses in upper-level and graduate courses because resources available through the selected publisher or via OER may not meet instructional needs, Wendler has said.

Efficiently utilizing resources is a key maxim of the university’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic One West comprehensive fundraising campaign, which reached its initial $125 million goal 18 months after publicly launching in September 2021. The campaign’s new goal is to reach $175 million by 2025; currently, it has raised nearly $160 million.


WT signs deal with 2 publishers to provide free textbooks (2024)
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