Student Views on the Cost of and Access to Textbooks: An Investigation at University of Otago (New Zealand)

Sarah Stein, Simon Hart, Philippa Keaney, Richard White


The rising cost of textbooks is influencing students’ choice of courses, as well as the quality of their learning experience once they are enrolled in a course, according to recent studies. This paper builds on those studies by exploring the possible effects that textbook costs may be having on study behaviours of students at one New Zealand tertiary institution: University of Otago. Perceptions of undergraduate students (n-811) about cost of, and access to, textbooks and possible influences on their study behaviours were gathered through a questionnaire. Results showed that students: are more likely to buy textbooks than access them through libraries; experienced purchasing expensive textbooks that were rarely used; questioned the value of textbooks; described alternative resource-seeking behaviours; and are heavily reliant on alternatives suggested by lecturers. Perceptions about affordability and academic value, access issues and consequential influences on study-related behaviours and attitudes are discussed.


textbooks; cost; access; higher education; student perceptions; student behaviour

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