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SPARC Statement on $5 Million Appropriation for Open Textbooks in FY18 Omnibus

For Immediate Release
March 21, 2018
Contact
Nicole Allen,
[email protected], 202-750-1637

SPARC Statement on $5 Million Appropriation for Open Textbooks in FY18 Omnibus

Washington, March 21, 2018 — The Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus spending bill unveiled today creates a $5 million pilot grant program to expand the creation and use of open textbooks, marking the first time Congress has invested directly in open educational resources (OER) as a college affordability measure. SPARC along with hundreds of students, librarians, and other advocates wrote, called and tweeted Congress in support of this appropriation. The FY18 omnibus is expected to proceed quickly to votes in the House and Senate, ahead of the deadline to fund the government by midnight Friday.

Statement by SPARC’s Director of Open Education Nicole Allen:

“With this investment, Congress has acknowledged that textbook costs are a significant barrier students face to affording and completing a college education, and that open textbooks are an effective solution. Unlike expensive, traditional materials that have nearly doubled in price over the last decade, open textbooks can be freely downloaded, edited and shared to better serve all students. Colleges and universities across the country are already leveraging open textbooks and other open educational resources to make higher education more affordable. The open textbook grant program funded by Congress will build on these efforts to help bring a college degree within reach for even more students.

“This grant program will serve as an important proof of concept for how the federal government can stimulate local efforts to create, improve, and encourage the use of open textbooks to benefit students. Grant programs funded at the state level have saved students more than ten times what the government invested, which means this $5 million investment by Congress could ultimately save students $50 million or more.

“This is a landmark moment for the OER movement. For more than a decade, students, faculty, librarians, and others have been working to expand the use of open educational resources on college campuses to reduce costs, improve student success, and unlock new forms of pedagogy. This bill marks the first investment by Congress in support of open textbooks as a college affordability strategy.

“The process of making college textbooks affordable will take more than one fiscal year, so we call on Congress to repeat this investment in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, and permanently authorize an open textbook grant program by passing the Affordable College Textbook Act.”

The open textbook language is available on page 67 of the explanatory statement accompanying the omnibus bill language.

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SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is a global coalition committed to making Open the default for research and education. SPARC empowers people to solve big problems and make new discoveries through the adoption of policies and practices that advance Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education. Learn more at sparcopen.org.

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