Friday, December 6, 2019
A medical student at California’s Western University of Health Sciences who is currently studying osteopathy, Ruhi Patil previously held several leadership positions at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Ruhi Patil assisted students who could not afford to buy all their textbooks. As the financial support commissioner of the Undergraduate Students Association Council (USAC), she informed professors of incentive programs that awarded them $1,000 or $2,500 if they assigned cheaper, open-source textbooks.
The average UCLA student spends $2,400 over 4 years to purchase conventional textbooks, reflecting a national trend. From 1977 to 2015, textbook prices have risen over 1,000 percent, which is three times the inflation rate.
Students were divided on the subject. One biology major expressed concerns that open-source textbooks were less rigorous than those from traditional publishers, while a mathematics major said the quality of information was comparable between the two kinds.
One provider of open-source textbooks stated their products have undergone faculty review at several colleges and universities, as well as scholarly and professional organizations. Hundreds of books are available for free download or inexpensive printing in disciplines such as business, the law, the humanities, natural sciences, and medicine.