Kortext, the UK’s leading learning platform and supplier of digital textbooks, in partnership with Jisc, Microsoft and a host of supporting publishers, has offered all 180+ universities in the UK and Ireland free access to critical textbook content (Free Student eTextbook Programme, FSTP). This move will give the UK and Ireland’s 2.7m Higher Education students, equal access to thousands of textbooks covering tens of thousands of modules of study, ensuring all students can continue their studies over the coming months.
The FSTP will especially benefit the country’s growing number of underprivileged students, who rely heavily upon library resources; 2019 saw the highest number of young people2 from the most disadvantaged backgrounds3 across the UK confirm a place at a university or college – accounting for, for the first time, more than a fifth of all places.
The course materials made available through the FSTP will allow all students to access the textbook titles they need. The textbook programme includes thousands of titles brought together by supporting publishers including Pearson Education, McGraw Hill, Cengage, Taylor & Francis, Wiley, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and SAGE Publishing to deliver a sector wide, student-centric solution to minimise the initial impact of COVID19.
Supporting this initiative through their Azure cloud platform – Microsoft’s Vice President, Education, Anthony Salcito commented “We are delighted to be supporting this programme. At this time of campus closures due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the most disadvantaged students are the ones that suffer the most from being unable to access their University library. As such, moving key learning content online through Kortext and supporting an entire sector in this way is directly aligned to Microsoft’s Vision of empowering every student on the planet to achieve more.”
James Gray, CEO and Founder of Kortext adds “The scale of the FSTP is truly ground-breaking. Only by pulling together as a sector has the programme been made possible and ensured we are able to support all UK students with an unprecedented amount of content on a single, customisable digital bookshelf for free, thus ensuring they can continue to study at this crucial time of year.”
Amongst the first universities to go live with campus wide access to eTextbooks have been the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester:
Jane Cooke, University of Liverpool Library, said: “Kortext has provided an invaluable service to the HE sector in stepping up with the Free Student eTextbook Programme at this time of uncertainty and rapidly changing circumstances. It has provided us and our university community with extremely useful teaching tools in a very timely fashion.”
Olivia Walsby, University of Manchester Library, added: “At the University of Manchester, as with colleagues across the sector, we are keen to reassure our students and staff that we are here to support their studies and research online by providing access to key digital content during this difficult time. TheFree Student eTextbook Programme will have a significant impact in making this transition as quick and comprehensive as possible at no extra cost.”
Celebrating the immediate uptake of the Free Student eTextbook Programme by over 120 Universities to date, and the staggering support from education publishers, Paul Feldman, CEO of Jisc says, “It’s vital that as many students across the UK can continue to learn from wherever they are during the lockdown period. The rapid response from universities signing up to the programme combined with the overwhelmingly positive reaction from publishers providing core eTextbooks, is a landmark of unprecedented cooperation across the sector. We hope that this initiative will lead to future collaborations to provide critical textbook access online to all students.”