UA Cossatot Saves Students $500,000 in Textbook Costs

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The University of Arkansas Cossatot announced that its cutting-edge textbook program enabled students to save an estimated $500,000 since 2015.

UA Cossatot was the first in the state to move away from the traditional campus bookstore and implement its own textbook rental program, combined with a faculty-driven move to Open Education Resources (OER).

UA Cossatot Chancellor Steve Cole is pleased to see that many other colleges around the state have seen the success of the UA Cossatot program and are now adopting programs similar to the one UA Cossatot initiated two years ago.

“It is a point of pride that UA Cossatot was the very first college in the state to offer this type of program for students,” he said.

Some UA Cossatot courses still require traditional textbooks. Those books are purchased by the college and rented from the college for $30 per course, although students are allowed to purchase or rent elsewhere if they wish. Courses without traditional textbooks are built using OER, a system that compiles relevant materials into an adaptable, current format designed by the individual instructor. Those materials are free to the student. Course quality is overseen by a chancellor-appointed board, which reviews materials.

UA Cossatot Director of Educational Resources Relinda Ruth believes academic quality is increased with OER, in part because the flexible design allows up-to-the-minute content revisions.

“Textbooks often become obsolete in a year’s time, but Internet and databases are updated moment by moment,” she said.  

After two years of operation, the program is on solid ground and serves as a model for other colleges seeking to save money for their own students, while increasing the quality of their courses through the addition of OER materials.

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