Textbooks & Inclusive Access: UTSA & HB 1027

Defines inclusive access and summarizes HB 1027 transparency compliance.

Defining Inclusive Access

Inclusive access is described comprehensively on InclusiveAccess.org

Inclusive Access is a textbook sales model that adds the cost of digital course content into students’ tuition and fees. Inclusive Access programs usually start with an agreement between an institution, a bookstore, and one or more publishers. On or before the first day of class, digital content is delivered to students, typically through a learning management system. Students have a period to “opt out” before they are automatically billed for the cost. After the end of the course, students typically lose access to the content. Inclusive Access is also known as automatic textbook billing, and the details of each program can vary by campus.

It is important to note that  the phrase "inclusive access" is a misnomer for these types of programs. Like access codes, inclusive access models are a barrier to accessing course materials.

Essentially, publishers that offer inclusive access models offer them at both the campus and academic department level.  Academic departments agree to adopt a publisher textbook for a single course, a degree program, or at the campus level for several departments. In some cases, adoption of a single publisher's textbooks across an entire campus is the model.


There are several challenges that inclusive access programs pose for students and faculty, despite the price that is attractive at first glance.


Institutions that adopt inclusive access programs are eliminating the textbook choice for their students.  Students are automatically billed a fee for the textbooks as part of their tuition, and textbooks are accessed on a digital platform for a specific period of time.

On the surface, costs seem to decrease, but in reality the digital textbook price exceeds the purchase price of a print used copy.

While institutions are required to provide student opt-out options for inclusive access, many are unable to do so without added technical and infrastructure obstacles.


For faculty, the cons of inclusive access programs are many. Agreements with publishers restrict faculty to adopting materials only from other publishers with which they signed the agreement and for the specific course/program. Faculty within the program wishing to diversify course readings using materials from other publishers are hindered from exercising their full academic freedom. This is problematic due to the traditional limited scope of commercial textbook publishers and the exclusion of historically underrepresented groups in commercial textbooks: women, people of color, and LGBTQ voices.