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I had a similar problem with a Chemistry professor who thought it was brilliant to let students do their homework on a website held by Pearson. The access to the website was conditional to the purchase of a code found in the textbook, which code was expiring at the end of the semester (4 months after registration). She also found that it would be a brilliant idea to give 30% of the term's mark on homework; it would give a chance to student who had a hard time on the exams.

So what happened is that in order to be eligible for that 30% part of your final mark, you had to pay an extra 150$. Otherwise, you simply couldn't do and submit your assignments.

In other words, you first pay the university to be taught the course but, oh that's not all. You can't actually get the course for that price; no you have to pay an extra 150$ to really do the course.

After fighting with her for two weeks at the beginning of the term, she gave me the choice between subscribing to the service for 50$ to only get an access code, without the textbook. Or I could get the questions on paper, and submit them manually, but only if I would take a rendez-vous every time to get the questions, and answer them on site for the duration of the rendez-vous, which was ridiculous. In the end I bought the 50$ access code, in shame. Maybe I should have fought my case, but I was already sick of this 2 week fight over one of my 5 other courses.

I think there's a fight to be done there. There must be laws that force the prof to disclose how much money they get from publishers. There must be laws that disallow linking marks to the purchase of some material. It seems obvious to me that once I paid the price of the course to the university, I should be given access to the same share of marks than student who will pay for whatever other extra. Maybe I would have a harder time doing the course without the textbook, but that would be my own decision, and I would still get the chance to have all my marks if I work hard enough.

To end this long post, I'll admit that although I don't agree with piracy, I do use bootleg copies of textbook if I don't consider them of worthy quality. I don't like to be forced into buying something I don't like. However, I will (and do) pay for the books I consider worthy, and be quite happy to do it. For instance, I don't like the book required by my C++ class, so I will most likely use a bootleg copy, and buy another book that I find of better quality.

The reason that happened wasn't because the lady is getting kickbacks from the publisher, it was that she wanted to unload the setting of questions and the grading on someone else. It used to be that you had TAs for that when the workload became to large for the professor to handle, but we are seeing third parties moving into this market niche. (Hey! An idea for a startup!)

There is not enough information here to decide if the professor is lazy or the university is overworking her - we would need to know about her course load, class sizes and other duties. However, there is no excuse for this stealth increase in tuition, this cannot be allowed to happen.

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