Library faces China crisis

May 29, 2008

Stephen Ball is right to highlight the difficulties posed by globalised, business-like universities ("Sector is shifting to business ethos without debate, expert argues", 22 May). An interesting illustration is provided by the University of Nottingham's recent decision to move 60,000 books and journals from its English libraries to its campus in Ningbo, China.

As a third-year history student at Nottingham, I am appalled by this decision, which the university's management made in the face of fierce opposition from the schools. Chinese law requires universities to stock 100 books per student. Rather than buying new books relevant to Ningbo, which has only seven schools, the decision has been taken to move books from England. Disciplines such as history and theology, which are not taught at Ningbo, will not be spared.

The madness of sending books that are badly needed in Nottingham to a campus that has no possible use for them is compounded by the absurd proposal to fly a book back from Ningbo if requested in Nottingham.

The university has so far ridden roughshod over the concerns of students and academics. Profit, it would seem, takes priority over scholarship.

Malte Ringer, Nottingham.

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