UTSA Libraries & Textbooks
"Inclusive Access, also known as automatic textbook billing, is a sales model for college textbooks. Digital content is delivered to students by the first day of class, often through a learning management system. Students have a period to “opt out” before they are billed through their tuition and fees. After the end of the course, students typically lose access to the content. Brand names include First Day and Follett ACCESS."
States are passing legislation mandating transparency around OER adoption and inclusive access transparency. In 2021, the Texas Legislature passed HB 1027. This page outlines expectations of HB 1027 and documents UTSA’s compliance progress to date.
HB 1027 (enacted): Relates to the disclosure of certain information regarding textbooks and learning content management systems by certain institutions of higher education (SPARC, 2021a). The thrust of HB 1027 and its advocates is increased student awareness, access and empowerment around course materials to support decision-making.
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.
To comply with HB 1027, institutions should make good faith efforts to provide transparency around any courses using inclusive access at UTSA by July 22, 2022 for Fall 2022: 30 days out from the start of class, per the bill text. All UT System schools are following this same timeline.
Each course listing should include:
- Any fee or charge associated with the course, such as a technology cost, library use cost, or printing or publication fee.
- The full amount of any fee for course materials assessed by the institution or another entity under an agreement with the institution, including a statement regarding whether the fee or charge is included in the cost of tuition.
- A description of any process that allows the student to opt out of a course materials fee.
- If a course material is in a primarily electronic format, the terms under which the provider collects and uses student data obtained through a student’s use of the course material.
- If an institution designates certain courses as having low-cost course materials (or a similar category, such as “affordable course materials,” “low-cost/no-cost,” etc.), the course schedule must include the criteria for that category (or a link to the criteria) in a prominent location.
- If an institution charges a student an automatic billing program fee, it must itemize that fee separately from any other fees or charges assessed for a course in the billing to the student.
- Any agreement between an institution of higher education and an entity under which the institution agrees to assess or allows the entity to assess a course materials fee to students is public information under Chapter 552, Government Code.
UTSA does not have any courses using the inclusive access textbook sales model. However, UTSA and UT System have made strides to comply. Learn more:
Inclusiveaccess.org. (2022). "The facts on inclusive access textbooks."
SPARC. (2021). OER State Policy Tracker. Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.
U.S. PIRGs. (2020). "Automatic textbook billing: An offer students can't refuse?" U.S. PIRG Education Fund.