WASHINGTON — One year after announcing their intent to merge, two of the largest college textbook publishers, Cengage and McGraw-Hill, ended their merger after failing to get approval from the U.S. Department of Justice.
PIRG’s Higher Education Campaign Director Kaitlyn Vitez issued the following statement in response:
“The failed Cengage and McGraw-Hill merger is a big win for students, faculty, and other community members at America’s colleges and universities. We’re glad to see that the U.S. Department of Justice and regulators in other English-speaking countries raised serious questions about the wisdom of allowing this merger to move forward, and that student advocacy, media pressure, and legal action pushed the publishers to abandon their plan to consolidate the college textbooks market further.
“Disallowing this merger doesn’t completely solve the broken textbook marketplace, which still is dominated by just three big companies. While Cengage and McGraw-Hill won’t have quite as much power to jack up prices on course materials, the new wave of digital textbook products out there — from access codes to ”inclusive access” automatic textbook billing — still make it difficult for students to get good grades, pay the bills, and graduate on time.
“As professors and campus administrators consider how best to transition their courses online for the summer term — and potentially beyond — in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge them to consider free alternatives. Rather than invest time and resources into a partnership with a publisher, colleges should invest in professional development and support for faculty and staff to learn how to use, and then share, open educational resources via permanently free homework platforms instead.”