Over a third of students ‘not interested’ in physical books

Over a third of students ‘not interested’ in physical books

Students are split on the necessity of physical textbooks in a digital world, but a majority of undergraduates want to have the ability to rent textbooks and customise content for their own requirements.

The data comes from a month-long online questionnaire into digital literacy led by the University of Greenwich. The survey was conducted in January. The results reveal that out of 226 undergraduates polled, 37% said they were "not interested" in physical books, but slightly more (39%) disagreed with this view, while 24% were neutral.
A majority of students (74%) said they wanted the ability to rent resources, and 70% said they wanted to be able to customise them.

The survey was conducted as part of a two-year project called "Digital Literacies in Transition: A Model for Transforming Graduate Attributes". The project, led by Dr Mark Kerrigan, received £100,000 in funding from JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee), a body which has recently funded a £1.5m programme in universities, and is working with 13 different institutions to promote the development of coherent institutional strategies for developing digital literacies for staff and students in further and higher education.

One ongoing element of the project, which began last July, is to engage with academic publishers to investigate the relationship between publishers, academics and universities. Dr Kerrigan said: "Publishers, booksellers and universities are going to have to forge stronger relationships to meet the demands of today’s students and employers. "

In addition to the undergraduates, 78 lecturers were polled. The survey revealed that 97% of those staff view academic content as an important factor when choosing a book, but only 50% placed a high priority on digital content.

The survey will now be rolled out to the universities of Westminster, Ulster, Bradford, Edge Hill and Bucks New.