NEW PROGRAM WILL MAKE FREE ONLINE TEXTBOOKS AVAILABLE TO MANITOBA POST-SECONDARY STUDENTS: MINISTER ALLUM
Post-secondary students will soon benefit from access to a free online textbook library thanks to the province’s new Open Textbook Initiative, Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum announced today.
“Textbooks are one of the biggest costs faced by post-secondary students,” said Minister Allum. “While we work hard to keep tuition fees among the lowest in Canada, this new initiative will save students money by giving them free online access to the reading material they need to achieve academically.”
Open textbooks are textbooks licensed under open copyright licenses and made available online for students, teachers and members of the public. Through the new initiative, faculty members will be able to provide content in the highest-enrolled academic subject areas.
“This is a positive step forward being undertaken by the provincial government,” said Michael Barkman, chair, Canadian Federation of Students–Manitoba. “Students will benefit from this new initiative and we look forward to continue to work together in order to achieve more accessible, affordable and high-quality post-secondary education in Manitoba.”
The program will be delivered by Campus Manitoba, using content currently available through BCcampus, with the province providing funding for faculty and instructors to conduct peer reviews of the material.
The current library contains more than 80 textbooks and will expand by another 50 volumes this fall, the minister said, adding faculty members will be able to adapt any portion of the content and customize it for their own courses.
“Our Open Textbook Initiative builds on our plan to make post-secondary education more affordable for students including making student loans interest free and the tuition income tax rebate, which puts an average of $1,000 back into the pockets of students after they graduate,” said the minister.
The first phase of Manitoba’s Open Textbook Initiative will fund 25 academic reviews of open textbooks by faculty and instructors from Manitoba’s post-secondary institutions. These reviews will be made available to all instructors and faculty members to support and encourage adoption of open textbooks in Manitoba.
Campus Manitoba is a consortium of Manitoba’s public post-secondary institutions, which advocates for more accessible education and helps students achieve their educational goals.
The minister noted the new initiative is part of Manitoba’s Post-Secondary Education Strategy, announced earlier this year. This first phase of the project will be completed by March 31, 2016, he said. Last year, Manitoba became the first province in Western Canada to eliminate provincial interest on all student loans.
“The Manitoba government is committed to ensuring students can access the best quality education possible while keeping more money in their pockets,” said Minister Allum.