COSTLY: Hayley Sparozvich is concerned with the cost of textbooks.
COSTLY: Hayley Sparozvich is concerned with the cost of textbooks. Mike Knott BUN300117EXPENSES4

Why textbooks could become more affordable

IT ISN'T just the cost of courses, accommodation and food university students need to worry about - textbooks are another major expenditure students have to tack on to their bill.

However, some universities are now trying to lend a hand as society dives deeper into the digital age.

CQUniversity's pro vice-chancellor of learning and teaching, Professor Josua Pienaar said the uni last year embarked on an across-the-board push to rejuvenate and rationalise academic resources for students.

"A fundamental aspect of the initiative is to move away from costly traditional textbooks and progress towards eBooks and eResources with the added benefit of these being available on mobile platforms - a key driver for CQUni," he said.

"For students, especially international students, studying in Australia is expensive and the additional cost of traditional textbooks regularly feature as a concern.

Prof Pienaar said the cost of academic resources affected students' ability to complete studies successfully.

"Where possible, CQUniversity units make use of eResources that are modular in design allowing students access to the information they need using the most cost effective methods," he said.

This approach has been whole-heartedly adopted by a New South Wales university.

The Western Sydney University and its pre-university training arm will provide all students enrolled in first-year and diploma subjects with free digital textbooks this year.

It will save students hundreds of dollars as they take their first step towards their future, with Study In Australia reporting most degrees cost anywhere between $15,000 and $33,000.

Professor Pienaar said CQU would continue to work with Australian publishers to reduce the cost of institutional eBook licenses.


'It's a real shock'

UNIVERSITY student Hayley Sparozvich said she'd be thrilled to see the price of textbooks drop.

"Dropping the price would probably give more people an incentive to start university straight away," the CQUniversity student said.

"A lot of people leave school without a job and they can't afford to pay for it; it's a real shock going from high school fees to this.

"I'm doing a Bachelor of Health Science and just for this term I've got to buy four textbooks which are about $150 each."

Miss Sparozvich said even if one book cost $80 another would be $160 and while buying online seemed cheaper, postage generally balanced out the cost.

With the price of buying a laptop, compulsory trips and amenity fees, the cost of university quickly adds up.

"I think they should make a portal online where you can click on it to access it and then just exit it, so you don't actually own it and it's accessible to everyone," she said.

"Universities could also just make it a part of your course fees by adding a couple of hundred dollars, or allow students to claim them on HECT debt."

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