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The BC ELN Tier Structure and other Pricing Models
Pricing models are a key point of negotiation with vendors. Typically vendors come to the table with their “standard” pricing model. BC ELN’s approach, wherever possible, is to encourage the vendor to accept the BC ELN licensing tier model as the way to determine prices for individual libraries.
The BC ELN Licensing Tier Model: Overview
The BC ELN model divides libraries into tiers based on
(1) type of institution and then
(2) FTE (fulltime equivalent students).
Many tier models used by both vendors and other consortia follow the same approach. Typically they recognize two basic “types” of institutions, colleges and universities. Colleges are priced at a discount to reflect the fact that the student body includes a significant proportion of students in non-academic programs who will make little use of standard licensed electronic resources.
A unique feature of the BC ELN model is that it recognizes a third type of institution, the regional university (originally university-college). This acknowledges a tier of post-secondary institutions in BC whose history, mandate, student body, and programs are a hybrid of college and university. The regional university type allows BC ELN to make a case to vendors for a degree of discounting for these institutions to reflect the proportion of non-academic students.
Tiers and Definitions
The BC ELN tier structure is as follows:
Institutions with predominantly two-year programs:
- Tier 1A: Colleges up to 2,000 FTE
- Tier 1B: Colleges from 2,001 - 4,000 FTE
- Tier 1C: Colleges from 4,001+ FTE
Institutions with predominantly four-year programs:
- Regional Universities and Institutes with 4-year programs
- Tier 2
- Tier 2
- Tier 3A - Small Universities up to 5,000 FTE
- Tier 3B - Small Universities from 5,001+ FTE
- Tier 4 - Medium Universities
- Tier 5 - Large Universities
The following four criteria are used to determine institution type (college, regional university, or university):
- their mandate under BC legislation
- the credentials they award as tracked by the Ministry of Advanced Education
- their affiliation with Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada
- their representation through the BC ELN Steering Committee categories
Types can then be further sub-divided based on FTEs. At present the University group is divided in this way. Recently BC ELN has begun exploring sub-division of the other types, and some vendors have proved receptive to this new approach.
The full-time enrolment figures corresponds to funded FTEs and is taken from AVED institutional budget letters (whenever possible).
The current placement of BC ELN Partner Libraries within the tier model is indicated on the BC ELN Tiers page.
Movement between Tiers
Changes at the institutional level sometimes lead to movement on the BC ELN licensing tier model. In order for an institution to move to a different BC ELN tier, it must meet at least 2 of the indicators numbered 1 through 4 above. For example, an institution normally categorized as a 2 year that receives AUCC status and begins awarding baccalaureate credentials should then expect to shift within the tiers.
Placement of partner libraries are reviewed regularly in the Spring to ensure that institutional changes are considered within the tier structure. Any changes made during a Spring Review will be in place from the September 1 following the review and will remain in place for any licenses signed within 1 year of the September 1st date (until August 31).
Some examples of tier changes include:
- increase in tier level: BCIT, Capilano University, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Trinity Western University
- decrease in tier level: Okanagan College
Other Pricing Models
In general BC ELN’s approach is to encourage database vendors to use the BC ELN tier model. However, for a number of licenses this has not been possible. In some cases the vendor is unwilling or unable to show flexibility in their standard model. In other cases BC ELN is using a model which predates the development of our tier model, or a model negotiated at a national level through Consortia Canada. Therefore BC ELN licensed products display a wide variety of pricing models in additional to the BC ELN tier structure. In each case the Trial/Renewal page for the product makes clear the pricing model used.
The following list outlines a number of licensing models in use by vendors and consortia across North America:
- FTE: A fixed price per FTE. Variations include weighted FTE (some types of institutions receive a “discount” on their FTE) and capped FTE (minimum and maximum prices).
- Tier: Institutions are divided into tiers and priced accordingly. The best known US tier model is the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
- Flat fee: In the flat fee model, a vendor grants access to a group of libraries in exchange for a fixed price. The libraries are free to divide that cost however they like, without reference to the vendor. A few of BC ELN’s earliest licenses including ERIC and the Wilson Indexes were negotiated on this model.
- Simultaneous user: In this model a library, regardless of size, buys a certain number of “seats” or simultaneous users to access the product.
- Usage-based: A library or consortium buys a “block” of uses, e.g. 10,000 fulltext downloads. Alternately they may pay a fixed price per download.
- Collections budget: A few products are priced according to the collections budget of the library, with “richer” libraries paying more.
- Existing spend: This model uses a library’s pre-existing spend on a publisher’s products as a baseline for determining the price of a new or expanded product. This model has been common in the transition from print to ejournal subscriptions.
- Hybrid: Some pricing models combine several of the above approaches.