License under review

As textbook buying season comes to a close for the fall semester, the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union plans on reviewing the new Access Copyright model that Laurier signed last June. The new model removed the original $3.38 full-time equivalent (FTE) and $0.10 per page fee for course packs and replaced it with a $26 FTE fee.

The $26 FTE — which may be less depending on your course load — was charged with tuition at the beginning of the semester. The Laurier Bookstore, however, estimated that there would be a 30 to 35 per cent decrease in course packs for students.

“Not necessarily an issue yet, but we’re going through the process right now of verifying of whether or not the course packs from the bookstore have gone down by 30 to 35 per cent which is what we were told right off the bat,” explained Chris Walker, vice president: university affairs at WLUSU.

“It was originally difficult to tell given the nature of the bookstore with how it sells books and does its inventory, but now that the book sale season is done, we’re going to compare this year’s costs to last year’s cost,” continued Walker, noting that with the original model, on average, students paid about anywhere between $15 to $18.

The university, while approving the new licensing agreement with Access Copyright, agreed to set up a cost-sharing model where 20 per cent — or $5.20 — of the FTE would be contributed by them.

“Access Copyright doesn’t really care how the money is generated, they are just going to get one cheque from the university,” said Shereen Rowe, the university secretary and general counsel at Laurier. “I had some follow-up with the business office [and] they were making sure that the amounts that they were collecting … was consistent with what we had agreed with that 80 to 20 cost sharing arrangement.”

According to Rowe, the bookstore has been tracking a “decrease in course packs costs.” She noted that the money sent to Access Copyright will be “blended” with the student fees collected and operating dollars set aside of their contribution to the FTE.

For Walker, however, the main issue is seeing whether or not course packs are cheaper this year. He did warn that if faculty members are still using Kinko’s as a way to sell their course materials — a method perceived to be cheaper under the original model — they are being double charged for copyright fees.

“If students are buying them at Kinko’s it’s another problem that we need to address,” added Walker. “Essentially you’re being double charged for no additional value.”

Both Rowe and Walker mentioned that the university is striking up a committee to further review the agreement and what direction Laurier should take after the contract with Access Copyright expires in 2015.

“What they’re doing and how it’s going to be applied to Laurier and what’s going to be the most cost-effective model both for students and for the institution at large,” said Walker.

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