Unrest as BI terminates contract with Akademika

Photo: Eileen Liu

BI Norwegian Business School has announced the termination of their agreement with Akademika on January 23, marking the end of the partnership between the institution and Akademika that has been in place since 2015.

With 35 bookstores around Oslo, Akademika has been the go-to store for BI students to purchase textbooks. Now, the business school administration has dedicated to create a new model and is thus planning to launch a comprehensive online bookshop by August 1, 2018.

Disagreement on Textbook Prices
The student organizations are the facilitator of this change.

– It is important that textbook prices and other syllabus-required materials are adjusted to student budgets, and should therefore be as cheap as possible. We experienced that Akademika is not competitive in terms of prices, Emil Lundal, President of SBIO says.

SBIO points to the example of when BI decided that only one of two types of calculators could be used for exams in 2015. Following the ruling, Akademika allegedely increased the price of given calculator by NOK 100. Today, the book store sells the calculator at NOK 500, which can be bought at other online retailers at a much lower price.
Responding to SBIO’s criticism, Vemund Barstad Bermingrud, Project manager at Akademika explained that the reasons for price differences come from different factors.

– Regarding the BI calculator, Akademika has prepared a user manual based on questions from the students at BI, which is included in the package, says Bermingrud.

– Prices of books differ because of various factors, from subject to subject, syllabus to syllabus. We perceive that Akademika’s service as competitive, although it is possible to find some at a lower prices at other retailers, he follows up.

According to Akedemika, the prices in their online store are frequently adjusted based on its online competitor and exchange rates.

Conflicts
Arnstein Bjørke, the owner of Akademika, expressed his confusion during the negotiation with the student union. According to Bjørke, Akademika tried to reach out to the student union multiple times, yet no response was given.

The statement from the student organization read that Akademika is “going against (the representative of student organizations) and uses previous statements from other students in order to squeeze the student organizations aside and stand on their side when negotiating with BI”.

The previous statements that SBIO reffered to include a survey conducted by Akademika at BI by Kantar, in which a majority of students were in favor of Akademika at BI. The student union deny the legitimacy of the survey, claiming the survey is conducted on a “biased and very questionable basis”, without a permission from BI.

According to Bjørke, Akademika had received a permission from BI to perform the study.

– When your customers are in the shop, you are allowed to ask them questions, said Bjørke.

Equal Offering
BI has decided to introduce an online bookshop for students and employees from August 1, 2018. The university promises best offers regardless of campuses and will launch the online retailer in order to provide equal services and prices.

Yngve Kveine, BI’s Executive Vice President of Communication Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, said the students will get what they need, when they need it, and at a competitive price.

– Our commitment is to make curriculum and surrounding literature available in a good and efficient manner. To meet the requirement of equal offerings for those who prefer or depend on purchasing online, the situation is that Akademika can only be negotiated. There are no other alternatives, the Vice President said.

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