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Students speak out against cuts to MUN library


Some students at Memorial University are concerned that cuts to the university’s subscriptions to academic journals represent a troubling trend to put research and graduate studies on the chopping block when budgets are tight.

 “Memorial University plays an important role in growing Newfoundland and Labrador’s population by attracting students from across the country and around the world. Innovative research, generated by graduate students at Memorial University, is essential to diversifying our economy,” Hesam Hassan Nejad, communications director of the Memorial University Graduate Students’ Union, said in a news release.

“Increasing graduate students’ tuition fees while cutting academic journals will keep Memorial from attracting students and means students will be paying more for a lower quality education,” Nejad said.

The students’ union said, after minimal consultation, Memorial University is ending subscriptions to 2,500 academic journals. As a research based institution, access to current academic journals is crucial to the work and studies of graduate students and faculty.”

But in a statement, Memorial University said it's not that cut and dried, and in fact its investment in academic journals has increased in recent years and it now has subscriptions to 80,000 journals.

"Memorial’s budget for journals has increased by 25 per cent in the past five years, from $6 million to $7.5 million," said David Sorensen, MUN's manager of communications. "When the board passed the budget in July, the intent was to find savings from administrative budgets, not academic. Therefore, the journal fund was not cut. In addition, the budget for Open Access journals remains unchanged for this fiscal year. That said, the high U.S. dollar and the cost of journals means that money didn't go as far as it did last year. The university is exploring ways to protect itself from the shock of currency fluctuations, and those discussions are ongoing. No journals are slated for cancellation at this time; a number of journals are being reviewed and a proposal will come forward following that analysis.

 

"The consultation on the journals has been ongoing since June, and announced to the university community at that time," Sorensen added. "It will continue."

The news release also states that Memorial University’s library was asked to cut $300,000 in spending while MUN President Gary Kachanoski continues to make more than $460,000 a year.

 “Memorial University needs to get back to the basics and focus on teaching and research,” said Hassan Nejad. “If our institution needs to find savings, it should be looking to administrative excess, not something as important as access to up-to-date research.”

 

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