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Last Updated: Monday, 30 June, 2003, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Israel row professor apologises
Oxford university
The university will complete the inquiry this week

An Oxford professor accused of rejecting a student because he was Israeli faces an "immediate and thorough investigation" by university authorities.

The university has issued a tough statement that "under no circumstances" would it allow discrimination on grounds of nationality - and the professor at the centre of the row has apologised for his "wholly inappropriate" comments.

Pathology professor Andrew Wilkie has been accused of rejecting an application from an Israeli student on the grounds that the professor opposed the Israeli government's policy towards the Palestinians.

In response, the university says that the vice-chancellor will receive the findings of an inquiry into the allegations this week - with the possibility of action to be taken against Professor Wilkie.

'Distress'

"Our staff may hold strongly-felt personal opinions. Freedom of expression is a fundamental tenet of University life, but under no circumstances are we prepared to accept or condone conduct that appears to, or does, discriminate against anyone on grounds of ethnicity or nationality, whether directly or indirectly," said a statement from the university.

"This candidate is entitled to submit an application and to have it dealt with fairly according to our normal criteria."

The investigation will examine the claims that Amit Duvshani, an applicant for a postgraduate course, was told that he would not be considered because of the Israeli government's actions against the Palestinians.

Mr Duvshani, a student at Tel Aviv University, was said to be appalled by this response, which was e-mailed to him last week.

Apology for 'distress'

And Professor Wilkie has written an apology for "any distress" caused by his e-mail, and "the wholly inappropriate expression of my personal opinions in that document".

"I was not speaking on behalf of Oxford University or any of its constituent parts. I entirely accept the University of Oxford's Equal Opportunities and Race Equality policies," the professor's apology stated.

Last year there was widespread criticism when two academics were removed from the editorial boards of two linguistics journals in a boycott on academic contacts with Israel.

The boycott, applied to the journals by Professor Mona Baker of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, was criticised by the UK education secretary and academics at Harvard University in the United States.




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