Oregon State University Affordable Learning Plan

Prepared by the Provost’s Affordable Learning Steering Committee

In 2019, the Oregon State Legislature passed House Bill 2213 (HB2213), which requires each public institution to create a textbook affordability plan. In fall term 2019, the provost convened the Affordable Learning Steering Committee (ALSC) with the charge to develop the processes for Oregon State University comply with the new state law, to help fulfill OSU’s access mission by improving the affordability of course materials, and to positively impact student success by making it more affordable for students to obtain course materials they need to study at the start of each term.

In compliance with HB 2213, Oregon State adopts and implements the Affordable Learning Plan outlined in this document. Oregon State’s Affordable Learning Plan (OSUALP) affirms our commitment to improving access and making higher education more affordable by reducing the costs of textbooks and required course materials. The goal of this plan is to increase the adoption of low- and no-cost course materials so that OSU students will see a steady reduction in the amount they spend on textbooks or course materials.

Oregon State’s Affordable Learning Plan has four pillars: Institution-Wide Goals, Engaged Faculty, Informed Students, and Sustainability.

HB 2213 Requirements1

All Oregon public institutions must create an affordable learning plan that addresses the following:

  • Contain measurable goals to increase textbook affordability.

  • Address how to mitigate the economic impact of decreased academic bookstore revenue as a result of the increased adoption of low- or no-cost open educational resources.

  • Set forth the steps OSU will take to advertise the availability of academic courses designated as using low- or no-cost course materials.

  • Contain a statement of support of academic freedom.

  • Establish a process for faculty and instructors to be informed about available low- and no-cost course materials.

Pillar 1: Institution

Collaboratively establish, work toward, and report on the achievement of measurable institution-wide goals that improve the affordability of course learning materials and therefore access to an OSU education.

1.1 Oregon State will be transparent regarding the cost of textbooks and other required course-related costs at the time of registration.

1.1.1 Oregon State faculty will report all required course materials, including items such as clickers, lab kits, software, proctoring fees or other items students must purchase by using the course materials reporting process through the Beaver Store requisition form.

1.1.2 To make savings calculations transparent, Oregon State will adopt and publish a clear and transparent formula for calculating savings/cost avoidance

1.1.3 Each college will set a goal for a certain threshold of courses use low- and no-cost course materials. For example, 25% of the courses offered by the College of Agriculture will use low- or no-cost course materials by fall term, 2023.

1.2 Oregon State will regularly gather data from faculty and students through surveys about use, satisfaction, and quality of affordable learning materials; student learning; and cost savings.

1.3 The ASLC will report semi-annually to the Oregon State community and to the Higher Education Coordinating Committee (HECC) progress toward institution-wide goals.

1.4 Oregon State will track and share publicly with the Oregon State community data and metrics that contribute to the affordability of course materials, such as the following: the numbers of open educational resources adopted, adapted, and authored; numbers of faculty and students engaged with or impacted by low- and no-cost course materials; faculty and student satisfaction with low- and no-cost course materials; student success rates related to low- and no-cost course materials; Human Services Resource Center (HRSC) and library course materials usage data; economic impact on the OSU Beaver Store, and totals of course sections with first day access to course materials.

Pillar 2: Engaged Faculty

Provide support for faculty to adapt, create, and share affordable course learning materials when appropriate in keeping with the institution’s land grant mission.

2.1 Oregon State will increase the number of instructional faculty members reporting course materials through the Beaver Store process and will reach the 100% threshold for course section reporting by 2025.

2.2 Each college and administrative faculty or student support unit will designate an Affordable Learning liaison who will help to connect instructional faculty and students to low- and no-cost course material resources, such as those available from the OSU OER Unit, Beaver Store, and Library.

2.2.1 Affordable Learning liaisons will meet quarterly for professional development and support for the duration of the 3-year plan. After that, the strategy will be reviewed.

2.3 Oregon State’s OERU and Beaver Store will create and maintain an online guide that assists faculty in reporting course materials through the Beaver Store process.

2.4 The ALSC will do outreach to colleges, support units, and other Oregon State community members on a periodic basis, such as presentations at faculty meetings, Faculty Senate, email messages distributed through Inform lists, and information shared via institutional media outlets.

2.5 Oregon State will recognize faculty and department efforts in implementing low or no-cost learning materials in their courses through a variety of mean, including awards and stipends.

2.6 Oregon State will update its current intellectual property policy to reflect copyright-ownership by faculty of instructional materials in order to promote the adaptation of existing and authorship of new OER by Oregon State faculty.

2.7 Oregon State will adopt a statement of support of academic freedom in relation to the selection of appropriate course materials.

Suggested wording:

Oregon State University affirms the AAUP’s statement of academic freedom. Faculty, including instructors, have the right to teach and address controversial issues relevant to the subject matter of the course they teach and educational activities they conduct. As part of academic freedom, faculty have the right to choose instructional materials and content, subject to faculty and academic units’ oversight of curriculum and instructional materials, university policy, state law, and federal law.

Efforts to make affordable learning materials available to students should not abridge the right for faculty to select high-quality, inclusive course materials for the classes they teach. In addition, efforts to make affordable learning materials available to students should respect the rights of faculty and instructors to their own intellectual property, including course materials that they create.

Pillar 3: Informed Students

Communicate the availability of courses designated as low- or no-cost in a timely manner to inform students and enable sound financial decisions that affect their health and well-being.

3.1 Oregon State will improve the visibility of low and no-cost course materials sections in application or resources anywhere students can access course schedule information.

3.2 The ALSC will communicate the availability of low- and no-cost sections through student channels such as ASOSU, Advising, Valley Library, and HSRC, among others.

3.3 See also 1.1 and 1.1.1

Pillar 4: Sustainability

Review and revise the Affordable Learning Plan on a regular basis as technologies, resources, and economic conditions change to ensure sustained progress.

4.1 Oregon State will re-evaluate, assess, and, if needed, adjust this plan as technologies, resources, legislation, and economic conditions change. The ALSC will review and update Oregon State’s affordable learning plan every four years, in coordination with biannual HECC reporting requirements.

4.2 Oregon State will communicate and affirm that the OSU Beaver Store is the preferred choice for distributing course content.

4.3 To mitigate the impact of the Affordable Learning Plan on the OSU Beaver Store, Oregon State will investigate the adoption of tools and procedures that center the Beaver Store as the resources for locating and acquiring course materials.

4.4 Oregon State will provide continuing education/professional development for faculty to promote and support the development and adoption of open educational resources.

4.5 Oregon State will encourage and offer suggestions to departments on how to address the role of open educational resources (OER) in their tenure and promotion requirements including how OER are evaluated in the tenure and promotion process and appropriate wording for promotion and tenure documents.

Affordable learning goals by college

Because each college is unique and some disciplines have more OER materials available than others, each college was asked to set its own goals. In some cases, the goals aimed to increase the low-cost and no-cost courses being offered; in other cases, the goals centered more on creating a culture of openness.

All of these goals are listed by college in Appendix E of the PDF version of the plan below.

  1. As laid out in Section 2 of HB 2213

Background on developing the OSU Affordable Learning Plan

The State of Oregon recognizes that the affordability of textbook and other learning materials is a serious issue. In the past five years, the Oregon legislature has passed two house bills regarding affordable learning. 

HB 2871 (passed in 2015) requires, among other things, that all Oregon public universities and colleges designate no-cost and low-cost courses at the point of registration so that students may determine the cost of the course prior to enrolling. This data must be reported to Higher Education Coordinating Commission annually. 

HB 2213 (2019) requires that all public institutions of higher education have a textbook affordability plan.

As a result, Oregon State University Provost Ed Feser in June 2019 appointed an institution-wide Affordable Learning Steering Committee consisting of OSU faculty, students and staff, including OSU Beaver Store staff. The committee’s mission is to make higher education more accessible to OSU students by promoting the use of high-quality, free and low-cost learning materials and recommending other cost-reducing practices in order to comply with state laws and improve student success.

A university-wide initiative such as this one that sets out to achieve real and measurable impacts for students requires input and collaboration from a wide variety of stakeholders. The provost convened a group consisting of OSU faculty, students and staff, including OSU Beaver Store staff, to draft the OSU Affordable Learning Plan

In spring 2020, the committee submitted the plan for approval to the provost, the Dean’s Council, Faculty Senate Executive Committee and presented the plan to the OSU Faculty Senate.  

An Affordable Learning Plan helps Oregon State not only comply with state law but also to fulfill our university’s mission and goals as a public land grant institution and leading institution of higher education. OSU’s Strategic Plan 4.0 specifically calls on us to be “leaders in the delivery of education” who “offer excellent education for all learners” and to be “welcoming and foster belonging and success for all.”