Higher education in the United Kingdom is changing, and a number of factors are contributing to this. The steady rise in tuition fees means that students are beginning to view university in a different light. Gone are the days when higher education institutions are simply viewed as “cathedrals of learning.” Instead, modern students have an increasingly transactional view of university. Student satisfaction and value for money is high on their agenda, and moves are being made by industry bodies in order to evaluate both these areas for prospective students.
After the spring back-to-school rush, our friends in the independent campus store industry come together for two key conferences, the Independent Collegiate Bookstore Association annual meeting (ICBA) and the National Association of College Stores Campus Market Expo (CAMEX). At these conferences, store leaders and staff learn from industry thought leaders, and each other, and discover new tools to help their stores contribute to the mission of their institutions.
While there’s plenty of cool “front of the store” merchandise on display at ICBA and CAMEX--one can acquire a collegiate branded spatula, or team spirit cowboy boots--the store leaders we work with are focused on something more critical than game-day attire. For the campus store folks focused on course materials, the mission is improving affordability and student outcomes. Increasingly, college stores are the driving force behind lowering the costs of course materials. While their per-unit margins may be shrinking, campus stores are stronger and more valuable to their institutions than ever before.
Across the nation, a growing number of colleges and universities are looking for innovative solutions that can help lower costs and raise student achievement.
One of the many challenges in higher education is the cost of course materials and textbooks. Print textbook costs have risen 82 percent over the last decade – that’s more than three times the rate of inflation. These high costs have led a growing number of students to delay or avoid purchasing required course materials, even though they know their grades will suffer as a result.
It is an exciting time at VitalSource as Kathleen Hayes, a 25-year ed-tech veteran, has joined us as our new Director of Institutional Partnerships. Kathleen will lead our U.S. and Canadian higher-education efforts, for both VitalSource and Verba, to grow Inclusive Access and to accelerate affordability and the digital revolution in course materials. Kathleen has built a career driving affordability in course materials, coming from zyBooks, helping to improve learning through digital learning solutions, and prior to that, Verba, where she focused her efforts on providing tools for colleges stores to grow affordability initiatives.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment in two- and four-year degree-granting programs rose from 13.2 to 17 million students (an increase of 30 percent) between 2000 to 2015. That number is projected to be 19.3 million by 2026.
This is great news as more students are investing in their futures. However, it comes with a tradeoff: rising cost of attendance and future student loan debt. Based on statistics published by the College Board, the average published tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities increased by 9 percent in 2016 over the five years from 2011-12 to 2016-17, following a 29 percent increase between 2006-07 and 2011-12.