Today's news

June 24, 2003

Labour MPs rebel in vote against top-up fees
The government's majority was slashed to 74 last night as Labour MPs rebelled against plans to allow universities to charge top-up fees of up to £3,000 a year. It was a warning shot by the party's backbenchers against the contentious plan to impose extra charges on students from September 2006. The Tories, who have already promised to scrap tuition fees, voted with the Liberal Democrats. Ten Labour MPs defied a three-line whip to vote against the government. At least 100 other Labour MPs abstained.
(Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Times, Independent)

Vetting of overseas students to be tightened
Ministers were yesterday accused of compromising academic freedom after universities agreed to tighten a controversial vetting scheme for overseas research students aimed at preventing terrorists from infiltrating British laboratories. Names and details of postgraduate applicants in 21 subjects are to be automatically sent to the Foreign Office under the voluntary system. The government is threatening to impose a statutory scheme. Universities will be required to refer all research students from 10 countries on the list: Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan and Syria.
(Guardian)

Top US court backs affirmative action policy
The US Supreme Court yesterday issued its biggest ruling for a generation on race in America, saying it was constitutional to take race into account in selecting students for university admission. In two rulings involving the University of Michigan and its law school, the court ruled strongly that diversity in education was such an important goal it justified the use of race to help select students. Supporters of racial preferences in education, in business and more broadly in American society hailed the opinions as a big victory.
(Financial Times, Guardian, Independent)

European rivals steal the march in nanotech
Britain is throwing away an opportunity to lead Europe in nanotechnology because hundreds of millions of pounds of public funding has been held up by Whitehall, scientists said yesterday. The Department of Trade and Industry is expected to announce more than £200 million of new money for nanotechnology in the next month to help British companies and scientists to exploit discoveries in areas as diverse as medicine, cosmetics and the construction industry. Leading researchers said the strategy could easily have been published nine months ago, and that other countries had used the delay to gain a vital competitive advantage.
(Times)

Patten excused from work to enter ivory tower
Chris Patten, European Union external relations commissioner, has been excused from a meeting with George W. Bush in Washington tomorrow. Instead, an enrobed Patten will process from Brasenose college to the Sheldonian theatre to be lauded in Latin by the university's public orator. Retiring Oxford vice-chancellor Sir Colin Lucas will install Patten as chancellor, award him an honorary Doctor of Letters degree and hand over the keys to the university, its statutes and seal.
(Financial Times)

LBS offers business its top students as temps
The London Business School is offering employers the temporary help of its brightest students under its Summer Entrepreneurship Experience programme. The school's MBA students will be matched up with the companies best suited to their skills.
(Times)

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