The cost of textbooks and other instructional materials has increased to the point that they represent a significant part of students’ educational expenses. Concern over the costs of course materials has led to both federal and state legislation and to Higher Education Policy Commission and WVU Board of Governors (BOG) policies concerning textbook affordability.
The intent of the legislation and policies is to ensure that appropriate, high quality educational materials are selected and that students are given timely access to the most affordable materials.
BOG Rule 1.12 prohibits profiteering by requiring the purchase of one-time use materials (such as worksheets) or receiving payment or other consideration as an inducement for requiring students to purchase particular Education Materials.
About the Course-Marking Initiative
In compliance with HB 2853 mandating expansion of Open Education Resources (OER), the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission is requiring all West Virginia public colleges and universities to implement a course cost-marking system. A memo to provosts and registrars from November 2021 provides more detail on that expectation. Starting with fall 2022 courses, WVU will begin publicizing the availability of “no-cost” and “low-cost” course sections directly within the course schedule. OER data is being collected for reporting purposes only and does not indicate a University preference.
The available course section designations are defined at WVU as follows:
- NOC (No-Cost Section) - All required instructional materials (with the exception of proctoring and lab fees) are available to students at no additional cost beyond tuition. These materials may include open educational resources, materials available through the library (including course reserves), access to content made available by the department, and other freely available and copyright-compliant online resources.
- LOWC (Low-Cost Section) - All required instructional materials (with the exception of proctoring and lab fees) can be purchased for a total expected cost of $75.00 or less based on “University bookstore pricing.” This includes textbooks, academic technologies and access to publisher content expected to be purchased by the student. Unless the entire class is renting or leasing a book, please use the cost of a new textbook in your calculations.
- OER (Open Educational Resources) - All required instructional materials hold an open license or reside in the public domain. For more information, see the WVU Library OER website. For assistance in identifying OER resources, please consult your subject matter library liaison.
What This Means for Faculty/Instructors
To support this initiative, instructors offering one of the above options are now asked to disclose this information so that course sections can be marked prior to the course schedule release each semester. Instructors will receive an email query about their course affordability before the beginning of the semester.
Resources for Faculty and Instructors
- WVU guidelines for assigning textbooks
- HEPC course marking memo to provosts and registrars (part of HB 2853)
- Grants to incorporate OER
- Add personal or digital materials to the WVU Libraries eReserve site for no-cost use by students
- WVU Libraries information on Open Education Resources
- WVU Research Repository documents on open education
- Request WVU Libraries to purchase eBook option of course text (often ability to provide this will depend on the allowances offered by publishers or vendors)
- Instructional design consultation through the Teaching and Learning Commons
- Achieving the Dream’s “Teaching and Learning with Open Educational Resources” report
- WVU Bookstore efforts
- Through a partnership and contract with WVU, the WVU Bookstore gives $1.3 million to $1.5 million each year to non-athletic student scholarships.
- The WVU Bookstores provide course materials to students in all available formats: new, used, rental and digital.
- The WVU Bookstores offer over 50 OER courseware options at $25 through our partners at BNED LoudCloud.
- The WVU Bookstore can ensure that all students, including the nearly 2,000 students using third-party payments (Veterans Affairs, Student Financial Aid, Dept. of Rehabilitation, and Student Athletes using scholarships) can get their books for the first day of class.