Tier Inequities

Tier inequities occur when institutions within the same tier pay different costs for the same product(s). Excluding the common suite, tier inequities are not an issue for BC ELN, since we have a policy that mandates using a model that is consistent over time and that avoids differential pricing. Most pricing for resources we license follow a tier model that takes into account type of institution (2 year or 4 year) and FTE.

In the case of the common suite, tier inequities are the result of inconsistency in the original Academic Search pricing from almost 2 decades ago when BC ELN originally licensed Academic Search - there was no policy that mandated using a pricing model and there was no tiering model in place. These inequities have been exacerbated over time and are as much about sites underpaying as overpaying an identified tier ideal cost.

Adjusting for tier inequities was one area for exploration identified at the December 2016 All Partner Meeting.

What We Know:

  • The challenge of tier inequities stems from internal allocation of costs and is not about the vendor overcharging some institutions and undercharging others. Therefore, it is not an option to go back to the vendor and negotiate further reductions to pricing.
  • There is little to no capacity on the part of most partner libraries who are underpaying for Academic Search to pay more (and thereby decrease the cost for those overpaying).
  • As a consortium, we believe that equity of access to resources is a fundamental value and a primary goal.
  • The common suite is one way that BC ELN works at a system level to put the student at the centre of decisions. The Ministry provides central funding for BC ELN to do this work.

Taking this into account, tier inequities are being adjusted by using "system money" (garnered from the Complete to Premier downgrades) to reduce the cost of those institutions that pay more than their tier ideal. In other words, we are downgrading content across the consortium in order to reduce the costs of approximately a third of BC ELN institutions who are paying more that their tier ideal. The aim is to create further equity within the tiers for Academic Search, while still keeping the needs of BC students at the centre of decision-making.

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