The University of Missouri is instigating a new system that offers students free access to course materials in 10 of its classes.

The New System

This fall, the University of Missouri will be instigating a new system on all four of its campuses that allows students free access to course materials, including textbooks. They will initially let students access their textbooks online for free in 10 of their classes. It does so by circumventing the step of publishing books.

The university’s president, Mun Choi announced this new system on Wednesday on UM’s Columbia campus. He has been discussing this idea since his appointment as president in March. He had called textbook prices a “high burden” for students. He pointed out that other schools, such as Rice University, were already following an “open-education resource” system.

“Not only will our students be able to afford the textbooks but more importantly our faculty will be able to develop the course material with new innovations that are occurring,” Choi said.

Comments on the New System

Chemistry associate professor, Klaus Woelk, said he plans on taking full advantage of this initiative for his classes. He said that all 1,200 students will be saving $200 each.

The UM student government president, Nathan Willet, commented on the burden of textbook costs, saying: Some students don’t purchase required textbooks because it’s too expensive. It ends up hurting their academic success. Any time we can make textbooks or course materials more affordable, it’s a win for students, and the university is still able to provide the same high-quality education.”

Dallas Parker, a student who will be a senior next year, said: “My text books range anywhere from $700 to $1000 dollars a semester. So, I don’t really use my textbooks, so that’s absolutely ridiculous in my opinion. I think if they can find a way to make them eBooks, everyone has a computer or can get access to a computer,”

Many have criticized the new system in that it might affect the course materials’ quality, since publishers are being circumvented.

Other Efforts By UM

The university has also been part of a textbook affordability program called “AutoAccess,” since 2014. AutoAccess allows students to access textbooks online for way less than buying their hardcopy. Since its launch, the program has saved students a collective amount of $7.2 million.

Choi also said that he is planning to provide between $1,000 – $10,000 to his faculty as incentive to find more ways to cut course material costs.

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