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The University of Western Australia (UWA) formally announced its decision to close the UWA Publishing (UWAP).
The university’s deputy vice-chancellor for global partnerships announced the decision through a memo. According to the memo, the university made the decision because the publishing house’s activities are not in sync with the university’s goals and strategies, which focus on providing an open-access digital archive in the long run.
The operations of the publishing house stopped in the latter part of this year. Terri-ann White, director of the UWAP, did not expect the university’s decision. According to her, the open-access digital archive was meant to support, but not replace, the UWAP.
White was also concerned that the memo did not state the university’s action plan in connection to UWAP’s activities and functions, as well as the possible employment termination of five UWAP staff, including White herself.
Despite the decision, the university has issued a statement, saying that books currently in production will still be published.
As reports about the UWAP’s impending closure broke, writer Melinda Smith started a petition to revoke the decision. According to her, the UWAP is an important aspect of Australia’s culture, and closing it would be a great loss for the country’s literary community.
Other associations have also called for the university to reverse its decision. The Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) said that closing down the UWAP can tarnish the university’s reputation. Similarly, the Small Press Network (SPN), an organization representing independent publishers in Australia and New Zealand, added that the UWAP could reach more readers better than open-access digital archives ever could.