Thomas College Receives $20K Grant from New England Board of Higher Education to Expand Awareness of Open Educational Resources for Students

WATERVILLE, MAINE, April 2023 — In an effort to bring awareness of cost savings for students through Open Educational Resources, the New England Board of Higher Education has selected Thomas College to receive an Open Education Course Marking Grant. This new 15-month initiative will support institutions in the expansion of student awareness and use of no-cost learning materials. Thomas College is one of only four institutions in New England to receive the award.

The Open Education Course Marking Grant was received from the New England Board of Higher Education through funding made available from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Thomas College will implement a course designation beginning during student registration in the Spring 2024 term that identifies courses using Open Educational Resources (OER) and other no-cost materials such as library-licensed content.

In January 2018, Thomas College received a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation to pilot the redesign of 30 courses over three years to save students money on textbook costs—often a significant barrier to student success. Since then, courses designed with open educational resources have saved Thomas College students more than $160,000.

Thirty-eight percent of Thomas College students are eligible for Federal Pell Grants and 48 percent are first-generation college students, making these cost savings crucial for the population the College serves.

“OER has made an incredible impact on our students and faculty at Thomas College,” said Thomas College Provost Thomas Edwards. “More than half of our students have reported that there have been times when they couldn’t afford the text. They also report that OER materials are more engaging than traditional textbooks. OER eliminates those barriers—motivational and financial. Students can focus on learning, faculty can focus on teaching, and the materials they need are right there for everyone to access.”

This grant will allow Thomas College to help more students have more access to education and remove a key cost barrier to their academic success.

“We can’t wait to see the impact that this grant has for our students,” said Edwards. “Providing access and affordable options promotes our missions of preparing students for success in their personal and professional lives and for leadership and service in their communities.”

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