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Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 05:59 GMT 06:59 UK
MPs debate chemistry closure plan
Students protesting over the planned closure
Hundreds of students dressed in lab coats staged a demonstration
The vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex is set to face questions from MPs over controversial changes to his highly-rated chemistry department.

Professor Alasdair Smith is giving evidence to the Commons Science and Technology Committee on Monday evening.

He has been criticised over plans to create a new chemical biology unit, with seven chemistry jobs being lost.

A consultation period with staff, students and external experts is under way at the university.

A protest was held at its Falmer campus, near Brighton, on 17 March.

Professor Smith said the chemistry department had been earmarked for closure because of financial pressures and too few students applying to take up the subject.

The science and technology committee will hear evidence from the department's former head, Dr Gerry Lawless, who has spoken out against the proposal.

Steve Egan, the acting chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, has also been invited to speak.

The planned chemistry closure has caused Nobel Prize winner Sir Harry Kroto to consider returning his honorary degree to the university.

Chemistry closure plan deferred
17 Mar 06 |  Southern Counties
Students angered by closure plan
14 Mar 06 |  Southern Counties
University axes chemistry degrees
11 Mar 06 |  Southern Counties

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