Free Digital Textbooks

Western Sydney University and The College are again providing all students enrolled in first-year subjects with free digital textbooks in 2019 and 2020. First year units/subjects are listed as Level 1 units in the Handbook.

The first University to provide free digital textbooks for its students, Western's ground-breaking initiative is one of the world's largest provisions of free textbooks for commencing students.

With the average cost of a text book being $100 per book, our commencing students will receive up to $800 worth of value.

To ensure our students have everything they need to make the most of their studies, this innovative initiative means every student undertaking first-year subjects will have free access to their required textbooks.

The digital textbooks are available online via the University’s learning management system (known as vUWS), and are accessible using any device.

Rather than carrying bulky textbooks, students will have easy access to fully searchable digital textbooks, with the ability to highlight and mark notes on-screen for future reference.

For students with a disability the books are completely accessible to screen readers and other support tools.

This program is in direct response to student feedback indicating that covering the cost of purchasing textbooks was one of the biggest financial hurdles when starting university.

There are a small number of units that will require printed textbooks, and students in those units will be advised on how and where to collect them.


Frequently asked questions

The University has received feedback from students indicating that covering the costs of purchasing textbooks was one of the key challenges they experienced when commencing their studies. Data indicated that many students already had a tablet style device when commencing university and as a result, providing textbooks would be more useful than tablet devices.

Textbooks can cost up to $800 in the first year of study, taking this burden off of students will free up funds for students to purchase their own device.

Digital textbooks will provide our students with the flexibility of accessing their textbooks at any time on any device without needing to carry textbooks with them to class or study. With increasing use of portable devices, including laptops and tablets, the University is seeking to use innovative resources that enhance student learning.

Most digital textbooks will feature the ability to highlight and mark notes on-screen, making them as practical as physical books. In addition, the initiative will also ensure that all students have access to the textbook in each class, delivering learning benefits to each student individually and collectively to the entire class.

All students enrolling in first year units will be eligible for the free digital textbooks in 2019 and 2020.

The provision of texts will be available for the Summer session (December 2018 carrying over to January 2019) and continue with the Autumn session (commencing in March 2019). It will also include the Spring session (commencing in July 2019) and the following Summer session (commencing in December 2019), Autumn session 2020 (commencing in March 2020) and Spring session 2020 (commencing in July 2020).    

Students not enrolled in first year units in 2019 and 2020.

If you deferred your 2018 or 2019 offer and are commencing study in 2019 or 2020, you are eligible to receive the free digital textbooks.

The program is a first of its kind and therefore limited to select units offered at the undergraduate level. The University will assess the effectiveness of the initiative with potential expansion in future.

When accepting their offer to study at the University, current second and third year students may have had the opportunity to receive a free device. The University has received feedback from students indicating that covering the costs of purchasing textbooks was one of the key challenges.

The digital textbooks will be available via vUWS (Learning Management System) at the start of semester.

All textbooks will be available prior to the commencement of session.

A link to the books will appear within vUWS at the start of semester.

The books will be available on all devices. Some of the books will require you install a free app to download – this will be clearly marked on the book when accessed.

If you are experiencing any issues in accessing your digital textbooks, please contact the Library's Information Central service via:

Phone (02) 9852 5353

Most digital textbooks will be accessible to screen readers and other tools, which will support students with disabilities. If you require further assistance, please contact the Student Disability Service via or on 1300 668 370.

The books are only available whilst you are enrolled at the University and in an eligible unit. The Library will provide access to these titles on an ongoing basis.

No, once you are no longer enrolled in an eligible unit, you will lose access to the title.

No, the initiative is not being funded by income from the Student Services and Amenities Fee.

Contact us

If you have any questions, contact the Library's Information Central service:

Phone (02) 9852 5353