The University of Calgary Students’ Union (SUUC) is calling for institutional and government support for Open Educational Resources (OER) to help with the rising cost of tuition.
According to SUUC Vice President of Academics Shaziah Jinnah Morsette, U of C students are paying at least 25% more in tuition than in 2019. There is no corresponding increase in tuition. quality of education,” said Morsette.
“Students are not just broke, they’re at breaking point,” Morsette said.
“Tuition, fees, books and rent have all increased at rates well above inflation over the past three years.”
The students’ union in 2018 cited a MacLean article showing the average student pays $773 for books each year.
Morsette said the current inflation crisis has made it even worse. Government and university help is needed.
“One way to do this is to support, encourage and fund open educational resources (OER),” Morsette said.
What is an Open Educational Resource?
Open Educational Resource (OER) is any type of teaching, learning, or research resource, from textbooks to presentations to videos, that is free and freely available through an open copyright license such as Creative Commons. They may also be available in the public domain.
OER and can be reused, shared and used free of charge. It is also up to date, making it a valuable resource for students and teachers.
According to Morsette, the university’s student union has already taken a step towards making OER a reality at UCalgary.
Morsette said U of C students are lucky there is a permanent library position for open educational resources. This was key to creating a $500,000 student union investment last year in creating at least 50 OERs over the next five years.
“Together we have been able to work towards increasing the amount of use of open educational resources on campus by providing information, guides and tools to access open educational resources on the student side and also for professors and professors are starting to incorporate it into their personal lines and other teaching resources that they have assigned that are expensive for students,” she said.
“Not just for one semester, but regularly semester after semester.”
Province Supports Further Development of OER
In a statement to LiveWire Calgary, Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said the Alberta 2030 Strategy: Building Skills for Provincial Employment supports the expansion of open educational resources.
“We are willing to work with post-secondary institutions in Alberta to determine the best ways to support the development of these tools for students,” Nicolaides said.
Nicolaides also said the provincial government will continue to invest so Alberta post-secondary students can access financial aid and assistance to support their studies.
“Budget 2022-23 makes $167 million available to students in financial aid, including $54.4 million for the Alberta Student Grant, $12 million for new scholarships, and $15 million for the scholarship. New Beginnings,” Nicolaides said.
Announced in June, the New Beginnings Scholarship will offer 1,000 scholarships worth $5,000 each year for three years. It will help low-income students study in high-demand fields such as energy, technology, aerospace and aviation, finance, and fintech.