Conference Presentation

How open textbooks can improve UK educational outcomes while saving money for everyone

25th October 2018

An open textbook is a textbook licensed under an open copyright license, and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers and members of the public.  The UK Open Textbooks project (2017-2018) has explored the readiness of the UK open textbook market through a combination of survey research, interviews, and a series of case studies.  Key takeaways include:

  • 20% of students who start a UK degree course will not finish, with maintenance costs a significant factor
    Current students will average £50,000 in fees and maintenance loans upon graduation
  • NUS data indicates an average spend of £1,000 per student year on books and materials
  • 88% of UK students claim to have skipped purchasing a textbook because of price
  • There is a significant body of research demonstrating the quality and efficaciousness of open textbooks and OER more generally
  • Open textbooks are funded by universities, foundations, governments and other institutions to disrupt the traditional model of textbook publishing
    In the open model, authors are typically paid for their work, which is then released under an open licence (usually Creative Commons)
  • This allows content to be freely copied, shared, edited, remixed and used in new ways without further permissions
  • Using open textbooks can also lead to significant innovations in teaching and learning through open pedagogies and open educational practices
  • Many UK universities have begun to explore the possibilities!
  • The full report is available from

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