What Grinds Our Gears: Stop making us pay for access codes and broken web content

Juggling access codes from multiple providers every semester is ridiculous

There’s no reason for digital information to cost as much as a textbook. Illustration: Alice Zhang/The Peak

By: Ahmed Ali, SFU Student

As students, we already have a lot of expenses at SFU. Between just tuition and textbooks, we’re dropping over $2,000 per semester at least — more for international students. But another expense that you don’t expect until it smacks you in the wallet are access codes for certain courses. 

Particularly people in the sciences, students will be familiar with a course requiring you to use your instructor’s code and an access code from the bookstore to sign in to an online site for assignments and practice. 

The problem with this is that even if you have the material from a previous course like biochemistry (MBB) or bought the books secondhand, you still have to buy the codes again — in some cases costing $80 or more. And even if you already had access to a site from a previous course, the website may say that it’s expired, requiring more chats with customer support. 

I’ve personally had several different providers of access codes (Wiley, Cengage, Pearson Masterings, Webassign). With them comes no shortage of issues: connecting, downed servers, browser support and cache problems, weird marking systems and, recently, an overcharge of $481.36 for a $125 code and textbook package . . . 

It’s a pain to constantly deal with all of these different sites, pay extra fees, and fiddle with tech issues — all for information I may already have! At the very least, enrolling into a course should grant you automatic access to all the necessary online materials, without the need for extra hoops to jump through.