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By Katerina Toutoudaki on 24.10.2023

Course books should be included in university fees.

A recent study published by NUS and CourseSmart, finds 81% of UK university students would like to see textbooks as part of fees. The conclusion of the study is certainly justified given the recent rise of tuition fees as well as hidden costs that still remain and add to the exorbitant new price tag of higher education.

Each student invests a minimum of £50 per term towards suggested reading implements. This amount, while not extortionate, is rather significant alongside the cost of extra equipment, material and printing that might be required. Considering that textbooks’ prices can range anything from £20 to £50 we might assume that students’ wish for books to be part of the package does not lie solely upon the newly introduced fees. Students have always been victims of an exclusive market that charges consumers as sees fit in absence of competition.

This over-pricing of academic books could explain the growing number of students (nearly a third) who have begun to rely on E-Readers as means of accessing necessary material. Although promising, the performance of such devices as reading alternatives cannot compete with the convenience of the physical book, which allows a more hands-on approach to be employed by students. Digital resources have yet to become tailored to students’ needs, while the aforementioned gadgets often come with an equally as discouraging price tag as their uncomplicated next of kin.

Of course we should not overlook the fact that libraries have always been an invaluable factor in academic study by providing an extensive range of material as well as an ever-growing array of digital resources. In spite of this, we can safely say that accessibility is not always guaranteed to increasing numbers of students that attend each institution of higher education.

As of the present no library service or technological gadget can be considered as a reliable substitute of individually owned textbooks. Accessibility is the key to more effective educational implements hence universities should seek to ensure just that. Undeniably books are imperative to the learning process that we invest in therefore it would be reasonable to expect universities to include their cost to the established fees. Textbooks considered essential for each subject are the ones that should be provided to students at no extra cost upon the commencement of each academic year. Not only would this contribute to reducing additional subject related costs and ensure availability of books to all, it could also promote the output of more concise reading lists for each course of study.

In light of the recent study universities should begin to take our opinions onboard and start presenting us with tangible changes to reflect the newly introduced fees. In the meanwhile, until such a scheme is potentially considered, academic bodies should aim to provide prospective students with a more accurate picture of additional costs that apply to each course of study. As for us current students, we will have no choice but to continue accumulating books that we often end up not using and reluctantly pay library fees for the books that we actually need along the way.

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