2 Zero Textbook Cost Degree: The Canadian Perspective

Ann Ludbrook and Ryerson University

BCcampus Zed Cred Program: Z for zero

BCcampus is a provincially funded organization located in British Columbia whose mandate is to provide teaching, learning, educational technology, and open education support to the post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. They felt that to reduce the cost of learning for students in British Columbia it was necessary to address the high price of textbooks – over half of students surveyed in a recent B.C. research project shared that they chose not to purchase textbooks for at least one course in their program.[1]

As part of their strategy they felt creating and providing open educational resources (OER) was just the first step towards reducing the financial impact on students, and as a result of the substantial success of BCcampus Open Education the next logical progression was to go beyond open textbooks for individual courses and target programs that enable students to earn a credential such as a certificate program or associate degree with zero textbook costs. In the spring of 2017, they asked B.C. institutions to apply for a grant program to develop pathways to credentials through the adoption and adaptation of existing OER or the creation of new OER. Three B.C. institutions were awarded grants in 2017.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University launches the First Canadian Zed Cred Degree

Kwantlen Polytechnic University was one of the first recipients of the BCcampus “Zed Cred” branded grant program. They received $35, 000 in grants to create a Zero Cost Textbook (ZTC) Degree.[2] Led by their on campus Associate Vice Provost, Open Education and open textbook author Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, as of 2019 they have launched three Zero Textbook Cost programs with over 300 courses that are commercial textbook-free.[3] They created and launched the first Zero Textbook Cost Degree/Certificate in Canada. All materials created through the ZTC program are under Creative Commons Licence CC BY 4.0. However, not all course materials used in their ZTC courses are OER – they also use licensed library resources delivered to students in their LMS. 

Cost Savings for Students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University

As of Spring 2019 – 16015 Kwantlen students have saved in total an estimated $1802488 in ZTC Degree programs, and two hundred instructors are now involved in teaching ZTC courses at Kwantlen.[4]

E-Reserves Services in Canadian Libraries

Many higher educational institution libraries in Canada offer E-Reserves services that already deliver course readings to students at no cost, mainly by linking to licenced library e-resources.[5] E-Reserve courses often have no required textbooks. Many of these courses could potentially be switched to Zero Textbook Cost courses with some planning, and be combined with courses that rely on the adoption or the creation of new OER to form a ZTC Degree. Longer-term E-Reserve courses can gradually transition to more OER content.

“BCcampus Zed Cred Program: Z for zero” is closely adapted from “Zed Cred and Z-Degrees: Z is for Zero” This material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.




  1. Jhangiani, R. S., & Jhangiani, S. (2017). Investigating the perceptions, use, and impact of open textbooks: A survey of post-secondary students in British Columbia. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(4). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/3012/4214
  2. Beattie. E. (2017, November 2). "KPU unveils sweet suite of courses with no-cost textbooks." BCcampus. Retrieved from https://bccampus.ca/2017/11/02/kpu-unveils-sweet-suite-of-courses-with-no-cost-textbooks
  3. Mays, E. ( Supercharged OER at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Pressbooks News. Retrieved from https://pressbooks.com/2019/02/15/supercharged-oer-at-kwantlen-polytechnic-university/
  4. Kwantlen Polytechnic University. (n.d.). KPU classes - with $0 for textbooks! Retrieved from http://www.kpu.ca/open/zedcred
  5. Swartz, M., Martin H., Ludbrook A., (2014). Blurred Lines: How Electronic Reserves Services are Breaking Down the Barriers Between Content and the Classroom. QSpace. Retrieved from https://qspace.library.queensu.ca/handle/1974/22966


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Zero Textbook Cost Degree: The Canadian Perspective Copyright © by Ann Ludbrook and Ryerson University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book