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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ABOR passes textbook recommendations

    The Arizona Board of Regents unanimously approved the recommendations of its Textbook Taskforce on Thursday, and financial benefits for students may be on the horizon.

    “”Students will feel the impact this fall,”” said Regent Edward Hermes, who led the taskforce. “”They will find that they can sell more books for a higher price and will have more options in the books they have to buy.””

    Included in the recommendations were suggestions to create a uniform date by which teachers should request books, which could potentially save students millions of dollars, Hermes said.

    “”If 80 percent of teachers turn in their textbook requests by the deadline, they could save a total of $4 million,”” Hermes said.

    Another recommendation was to create a feasibility study to decide whether the UA Press should print textbooks. The three Arizona state universities would use the same books for general-education courses, an idea that spurred debate.

    “”With the feasibility study, I think there are large barriers to doing this financial(ly) and otherwise,”” said UA President Robert Shelton. “”The only thing I would add is, while we all want to keep cost down, I am not convinced that this is going to be significant savings when you think of the total cost of higher education.””

    The feasibility study will be paid for by ABOR so as not to burden the UA, said Regent Gary Stuart, also a member of the taskforce.

    “”One of the freedoms professors have is in choosing their textbooks,”” said Regent Marcus Ford, a professor at Northern Arizona University. “”If you try to standardize the 100- and 200-level courses, you have significantly reduced academic freedom. My guess is the feasibility study will turn out in a way that will not support this.””

    Also included in the recommendations was a plan to create and expand textbook-rental programs at each university. The UA’s existing textbook-rental plan will serve as a model.

    Serena Unrein, executive director of the Arizona Students Association, applauded the regents’ efforts.

    “”I think it’s really significant that these Regents have passed these recommendations,”” she said. “”It shows that they are committed to making textbooks more affordable in general, (that) they are committed to student concerns.””

    Tommy Bruce, ASUA president, echoed the sentiment.

    “”I think it’s phenomenal,”” he said. “”It’s a revolutionary proposal. … We have taken textbooks back, and we won’t stand for being pushed around by the publishers anymore.””

    On the UA campus, ASUA will be working closely with Shelton and ASA to ensure faculty are aware of the recommendations and the deadline for submitting textbook requests, Bruce said.

    “”This is not a silver bullet,”” Hermes said. “”But this is a great first step in the right direction.””

    Cutting the cost on textbooks

    The recommendations (apply to Arizona and to Arizona State and Northern Arizona universities):

    1) Establish an earlier, uniform deadline for the textbook buy-back period, to generate the highest return of used books.

    2) Establish goals and procedures for faculty to submit orders on time, with a goal of 50 percent by spring 2008 and 80 percent by spring 2009.

    3) Develop a brochure to educate the campus on the issues concerning new textbook editions and encourage the campus to continue providing older editions.

    4) Create buy-back incentives for students to increase the number of textbooks returned.

    5) Encourage the bookstores to offer unbundled versions of all textbooks and allow students to purchase supplementary materials, such as CDs, separately.

    6) Encourage the use of non-print resources and the development of alternatives to traditional textbooks for classes.

    7) Ensure that each university bookstore implements a “”low-price guarantee.””

    8) Create/expand a textbook-rental pilot program at all university campuses, using the UA pilot program as a model.

    9) Conduct a feasibility study to investigate the possibility of using UA Press to publish general-education books common to each university.

    10) Have the university’s provosts provide ABOR with written and oral status reports every spring, starting in 2008.

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