Written by James Gray, Chief Executive, Kortext.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on multiple industries worldwide and Higher Education is not an exception. As the UK government’s response has intensified, universities have closed campuses and many higher education students have had their course delivery suspended or moved online. Accessing core study materials then becomes a problem for the many students that rely on the small number of print textbooks available within their university libraries. The timing could not have been worse as most students prepare to commence their study leave in preparation for their end of year or final exams in mid-April.
Kortext, a techUK member and leading digital eTextbook platform, has coordinated a cross sector response and co-led the launch of the Free Student eTextbook Programme (FSTP) in partnership with Jisc and leading academic publishers. This nationwide initiative provides 2.4 million university students and 217,000 academic staff with free digital access to the core study material from publishers including Pearson, Cengage, Elsevier, Wiley, Macmillan, Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press on the Kortext platform, free of charge for the remainder of the current academic year.
Most students will be able to access the digital content through their university’s online library catalogue, ensuring their trusted routes to find and select content are maintained.
The FSTP has received an emphatic and fast response with over 115 UK universities signing up to use the programme. Patricia Killard of the Cambridge University Libraries said, “the importance of being able to provide core eTextbooks to our students and teaching staff during such a challenging time cannot be understated. This access is being offered for free during the Coronavirus outbreak, and marks incredible generosity and care on the part of the contributing publishers who have chosen to make their content available. Cambridge University Libraries are extremely grateful to Kortext and Jisc for all their work to make this possible”.
None of us know how long the current disruption will last, or the longer-term impact upon higher education students and institutions. Kortext, Jisc and the leading academic publishers have come together to provide an immediate, student centric solution, to minimise the initial impact of COVID-19 and will work in partnership to support further in the weeks and months ahead.
Any universities wishing to join the programme should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.