Western Sydney University makes etextbooks available for free to all first-year students

Western Sydney Uni

A ground-breaking collaboration between Western Sydney University and ProQuest provides digital textbooks for commencing university students through the University’s library, reducing the overall cost of education to students and increasing access to required learning materials.

One of the world’s largest initiatives of its kind, Western Sydney University is differentiating itself from other universities by making etextbooks from 60 academic publishers available to students via Ebook Central, ProQuest’s ebook platform.

From the University’s web site:

To ensure our students have everything they need to make the most of their studies, this innovative initiative means every student in every first-year subject will have free and simple access to the textbooks, delivering learning benefits individually and collectively to the entire class.

The textbooks will be delivered as digital textbooks, providing access on campus or at home. The textbooks can be read and used on any device. Rather than carrying bulky textbooks, students will have easy access to fully searchable digital textbooks, which feature the ability to highlight and mark notes on-screen.

For students with a disability the books are completely accessible to screen readers and other support tools.

This program is in direct response to student feedback indicating that covering the cost of purchasing textbooks was one of the biggest financial hurdles when starting university.

From the ProQuest press release sent to NSR:

Working with ProQuest simplifies the provision of etextbooks to this large set of students and faculty. ProQuest manages connections with publishers to curate needed textbooks, managing rights and licenses. Delivery through Ebook Central provides a simple, modern user experience for students and faculty. The etextbooks can be used online or they can be downloaded onto the students’ preferred devices, including smartphones and tablets.

Committed to improving learning outcomes for all students, Western Sydney University’s model removes a significant financial barrier to educational materials. “We put our students at the heart of everything we do here at Western Sydney University. Our students told us that purchasing the textbooks they needed was one of the bigger financial hurdles to studying, so we’re helping in a practical way,” said Angelo Kourtis, Western Sydney University’s Vice-President, People and Advancement.

“ProQuest is committed to partnering in creative ways for our customers to support the broader goals of their institutions. In this case, it’s a very real impact on student outcomes and accessibility to education,” said Kevin Sayar, Senior Vice President and General Manager, ProQuest Books. “By curating the textbook content, simplifying access for students and enabling the connections between the library and publishers, ProQuest is helping to build the foundation for extraordinary achievements.

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