New Brunswick

UNB students pay as much as $340 per textbook

Students attending the University of New Brunswick spent on average $389.28 on textbooks this semester, with the average textbook costing $104.45.

Study conducted by UNB Student Union showed average of $389 spent by students on textbooks this term

Books costing as much as $340 can be spotted at the UNB bookstore. (Jordan Gill/CBC)

Students attending the University of New Brunswick spent on average $389.28 on textbooks this semester, with the average textbook costing $104.45, according to a study by the university's student union.

The study was carried out anonymously with 348 students responding over a five-day period.

Student union vice-president Katie Beers led the TextBroke campaign, which included the study, and said the price students are paying is too high.

"While I believe that having extra course materials is vital to academic success, I believe that there are other opportunities to make education more affordable to our students," said Beers.

The study shows while the average is high, some students pay more for books than others.

"Applied sciences, and engineering and forestry [have] more expensive textbooks, whereas arts and business typically have a little bit of lower prices," said Beers.

Bookstore response

The university bookstore would not agree to an interview, but did issue a statement via email. The email states the bookstore doesn't decide the cost of the books, but points to various programs the bookstore has to reduce the cost to students.

"Pricing for textbooks is the same across the country and is the responsibility of individual publishers; however, not many other universities have the cost-saving measures in place that we do," wrote Shelley Nowlan, manager of the university bookstore.

Among the programs the bookstore has in place lower prices are price-matching, book buy-backs and book rentals.

The study indicated the most expensive price a student paid for a single book was $400. While this could not be confirmed the bookstore stated the most expensive book they sell is titled Molecular Biology of the Cell and retails for $334.50, although a textbook costing $340.25 titled Invertebrate Zoology was also spotted on the shelves.

Beers was relatively lucky this semester. The two books she required only cost her a combined total of $150. But for some students, $150 is still a lot of money.

"It was still half of my paycheque for two weeks," said Beers.

Beers said part of the reason for holding the study was to collect data to convince professors to use more inexpensive materials, or even open source textbooks.

Beers said while she can understand professors assigning a textbook that will be used a great deal, that isn't always what happens.

"[I just] recently paid $100 for a textbook that I only have to use the first 75 pages for [the class]," said Beers.

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