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Zicklin undergraduate students are paying too much for textbooks

John Liu | Flickr

Academic departments at Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business must consider the cost and accessibility of the textbooks assigned to undergraduate students.

The City University of New York’s mission is to provide a high-quality education for students of all backgrounds and providing more affordable textbooks would fall in line with this statement.

For students coming from low-income families in particular, the cost starts to add up when they’re enrolled in multiple courses that require textbooks.

In fact, most Baruch students are from a working-class background and attend the college for its value and affordability.

According to a 2022 economic mobility report from Baruch, 60% of undergraduate students are from households with income below $40,000 and 28% are from households with income less than $20,000.

Zicklin should consider implementing lower-cost and open-source reading materials for students to ensure equity.

The core curriculum for Zicklin undergraduate students consists of 12 required business courses, totaling to 34.5 credits. Many core courses, such as Business Fundamentals: The Contemporary Business Landscape, Information Systems and Accounting Information Systems, require textbooks.

Business Fundamentals: The Contemporary Business Landscape and Introduction to Information Systems and Technologies are co-requisites and must be taken at the same time. This requires students to pay the textbook costs for both courses, amounting to around $150.

In some cases, it is required that students purchase the textbooks to access their homework assignments.

The Baruch College Bearcat Bookstore lists a copy of an Accounting Information Systems textbook for $133 and emphasizes that students must purchase a new copy for the course.

Students’ costs mount because of this unnecessary requirement, especially as some may be enrolled in multiple core classes at once.

Additionally, it puts a financial burden on students who might only be able to afford used materials. They shouldn’t have to pay in order to view and complete their coursework.

Baruch College does offer student emergency grants for students who face great financial hardship, though students must be “facing short-term, non-recurring emergencies” to be eligible. This is not helpful to working-class students. The college should consider starting a fund that covers material costs for students with financial needs, who do not fit the specific circumstances.

Although the college has a partnership with publishing company McGraw Hill Education, whose textbooks are frequently assigned by Zicklin instructors, CUNY also allows instructors to assign open educational resource materials.

Examples include a subscription purchased by CUNY or a material made freely available by the copyright owner.Zicklin professors should keep their student’s budgets in mind and take advantage of these offers.

Departments could also put effort into ensuring these resources are available on reserve for students. They can also look into assigning more open-source reading materials to entire courses.

Alternatively, if these materials must be assigned, Zicklin should offer a textbook bundle for students who are taking multiple business core classes at a time, so that they can buy them at a reduced price.

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