Savings found in agreement
In a recent cost-analysis conducted by Wilfrid Laurier University, the institution has found that Fall 2012 course pack costs have decreased, on average, by about 50 per cent, or $0.17 per page, from the cost of course packs in Fall 2011. This is largely due to the agreement the university signed with Access Copyright last June.
Instead of a point-of-sale cost of $0.10 a page for course packs, the current agreement charges students a full-time equivalent (FTE) fee of $26 for five courses, $5.20 of which is covered by the university. The original estimate in savings under this new agreement was only 30 to 35 per cent with the FTE included.
However, course pack for BU 447 that was priced at $41.95 for the Fall 2011 semester fell to $21.95 in Fall 2012.
“We’re pleasantly surprised, we were a little skeptical as to exactly what the impact of the Access Copyright arrangement was going to be,” said Chris Walker, the vice-president: university affairs at the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union.
The new agreement has faced some criticism in the past for the upfront fee of $20.80, since the originally average students paid for copyright under the original framework was $15-18. For this framework, however, a student will have to pay this fee even if their classes do not use course packs.
“Students who are purchasing a lot of course packs are saving a lot of money. Students who aren’t purchasing course packs are being charged more. That’s another potential problem with the current arrangement,” explained Walker.
The current agreement with Access Copyright expires in 2015 and Walker noted that the university should discuss whether or not Access Copyright should still be an option for the university.
“There’s still on-going follow-up that needs to happen with respect to when 2015 comes around and the agreement expires. Is Access Copyright still going to be the right agreement for us or do we encourage the university to go in a different direction?” continued Walker, adding that online content has been somewhat problematic under the agreement.
While undergraduate students may be saving money on course packs, graduate students don’t share the same luxury. According to Domenica De Pasquale, the academic and research director for the
Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Students Association (GSA), the new agreement doesn’t benefit graduate students because many graduate courses don’t have course packs.
“Those ones [course packs], fortunately, did decrease a bit. However, there is not enough savings to justify the cost [of the FTE] for all graduate students,” said De Pasquale, noting that graduate students still pay the $20.80 FTE.
Graduates students used to only pay $5.10 a semester for copyright.
“We’re trying to strategize ways in which we can see that payment received in others ways, such as increasing the number of publications we have access too, for example,” she added.
Mike Zybala, the associate director of retail services/systems at the Bookstore, explained that with this cost analysis faculty might be more willing to use course packs, something that has declined in use the past few years.
“Now with that agreement, I’m thinking we’re going to be seeing a bit of an increase [in use of course packs],” he said. “I think it’s an alternative to a student buying three, four or five books for course. It gives the faculty some flexibility to kind of customize the course content.”
As well, professors have begun consolidating course packs for similar courses or classes that have multiple parts.
“We were worried that printing costs and other costs associated with course pack material with offset the saving … but that didn’t prove to be the case,” added Walker.
He also noted that if students were told to buy course materials at an external business such as Kinko’s they were actually paying more in copyright since they had to pay the upfront fee regardless.
“Due to the way the costing works out it’s far cheaper for the student to actually purchase it at the Bookstore,” he said.