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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
Oxford students 'to sell' library
Radcliffe Camera, part of Oxford's Bodleian library
The Bodleian is Oxford's main research library
Students at Oxford University have put the Bodleian library up for sale on eBay in a symbolic effort to "raise enough money" to pay off rent debts.

The building and its contents have a reserve price of 189m - the estimated value of loans incurred by Oxford's 11,000 undergraduates.

Student union president Emma Norris said high costs had damaged "quality of life". The first eBay bid was for 50.

A university spokeswoman said the Bodleian was "not theirs to sell".

Rent rises

The student union says college rent costs have increased by 30% on average over the last five years, more than in the private sector.

Ms Norris, said: "Student loans now barely cover rent costs because of such unreasonable rent rises.

"Colleges need to appreciate the very real effects such rises are having on the quality of life of their students, who are increasingly having to resort to unsecured credit to finance their way through university.

"Universities, especially ones as asset rich as the University of Oxford, should not be forcing poor students into further debt."

Rent campaign co-ordinator Martin McCluskey said: "College officials seem intent on putting an unreasonable price on our education by charging ridiculous rents.

"So by putting the Bodleian up for sale, we hope to meet this absurd price."

'Favourable costs'

A university spokeswoman said Oxford's colleges were "deciding to reduce the across-the-board subsidy in order the target the money towards those students who need it most".

She added: "And since terms are only eight weeks long and college accommodation is provided for two, three or four years (as opposed to one at virtually every other university), accommodation costs for the entire degree compare very favourably with other universities."

The Bodleian - the main research library for Oxford University - opened in 1602 with a collection of 2,000 books gathered by Thomas Bodley of Merton College.


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