Five universities, Harvard, Cornell, Dartmouth, UC Berkeley and MIT, have compacted to support open-access publishing by funding publishing fees. Many open access journals, because the do not charge readers, use the model of charging for publication. This could be a barrier to publishing in an OA journal, so the compact:
…supports equity of the business models by committing each university to the timely establishment of durable mechanisms for underwriting reasonable publication fees for open-access journal articles written by its faculty for which other institutions would not be expected to provide funds.
Open access isn’t free, someone has to pay for it.. the provider, the user or some other model. I, personally, like the idea behind open access publishing of research. I believe it can be one model, among several, to make access to research free and available to help advance further research. Two years ago, the Consolidated Appropriations Act made it a requirement that NIH-funded research be published in such a manner that it was open after a certain period of time, a boon to open access publishing. Publishers of all stripes are attempting to develop ways to make research available to researchers, and pay for it.
I look forward to seeing how these universities underwrite those fees and which other universities join the compact.