Open Educational Materials  Support Better Student Success

In fall 2020, the Douglas Students’ Union launched the Academic Materials Survey to learn about student experience with academic materials. We gathered information from students that included how much tuition and textbooks costs, the cost and usage of access codes and perspectives on Open Educational Resources (OERs). 

Douglas College students told us the following:

  • Over 77% of students were surprised by the cost of academic materials (and not in a good way)
  • Over 74% said that academic materials cost more than expected (it was a horrible surprise)
  • Over 70% of students did not buy recommended materials because it was cost prohibitive
  • 66% of students had to pay additional money for access codes (another bad surprise)
  • Over 90% would use an OER if it was available as an option
  • Students would utilize different options to access OERs – print, digital and a combination of both

You can read the results and our full report from the Survey here.

Stories from Campus: 2 Students’ Experiences with Academic Materials


My name is Doyin Agbaje, I am an international student from Nigeria. I am currently a 4th year student in the BBA Management program. I have been at Douglas since 2017 and in that time I have volunteered within the College, I have held multiple positions on the College board and the DSU. During my time at Douglas, I have seen tuition increase significantly and also textbook costs. I was exposed to OERs for the first time in my second year in one of my English literature courses and I remember thinking, “Why don’t all instructors use this?” That question is still valid now but I am glad more instructors are beginning to adopt this great initiative. 

All students are aware about the cost of education, some (international students) more than others but when it comes to textbook costs, nursing and business students have it hard. This causes a lot of students to rely heavily on borrowed textbooks or even previous edition textbooks that lack some necessary materials. The impact of this is that students do poorly on tests and exams because they have to make the most of what they have. 

Students will be very appreciative if even more instructors offer OERs and this will contribute hugely to student success.

My name is Mehre Dlir, I am a domestic student who moved to Canada 4 years ago. I am currently a 3rd year student pursuing BBA. I have been at Douglas since the start of 2020. At the beginning of my journey I was pretty happy with the tuition fees, and really thought that was the only thing I had to be worried about. But later on after seeing so many hidden costs, learning was not on the list of my priorities, but being able to pay for it. During my winter semester of 2021, most  of my professors provided us with free e-texts and made sure that we had access to a whole lot of material through recorded lectures and powerpoints. During that semester even though all my courses were 3rd year courses and very lecture heavy, I received the highest grades and felt most at peace.

Education should be delivered in many different ways to make sure that everyone who desires it can access it. In addition to ever-increasing tuition fees and ballooning student loan debt, textbook costs are creating further obstacles and barriers while limiting student success. Since 2012, one thing that has given students a bit of relief from financial stress and has helped the students, especially in BC alone to save over $23 million has been the on-going fight for Open Educational Resources.

Open textbook adoptions have been tracked since 2013 at Douglas College, and the largest increase in OER adoptions since then occurred in the fall semester of 2020 with 91 adoptions impacting 2325 students for a savings of $293,203; followed by another huge shift during the winter semester, with a total savings of $355,888. 

I urge all instructors at Douglas College to adopt OERs and other open materials. We, your students, will be able to focus on what you are teaching, learn the lessons and not worry (as much) about how we can afford to finish school.


Open Textbooks Now! is a campaign of the Douglas Students’ Union and the British Columbia Federation of Students. Learn more about the campaign here.