By Polly Curtis, education editor
A university has apologised to China for "any unhappiness" it caused by awarding an honorary degree to the Dalai Lama.
The apology was criticised by Tibetan freedom campaigners who accused London Metropolitan University last night of pandering to the Chinese government to protect overseas recruitment plans.
Brian Roper, the university's vice-chancellor, made the apology via Chinese embassy officials, after being criticised in the Chinese press for the award to the exiled Tibetan leader on May 20. Chinese internet groups had suggested boycotting the university, which recruits students from China and has an office in Beijing.
The Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, president of the Tibet Society, said: "It's highly regrettable that the vice-chancellor has taken this decision. Tibet is an illegally occupied country where the indigenous population has been horribly abused by the Chinese authorities."
Roper wrote to the Chinese embassy on June 16. Reports in the Chinese media suggested the letter expressed "regret" over the honorary degree.
A spokeswoman for the university, which has 434 students from China, out of 4,399 students from outside the EU, confirmed that Roper had also met embassy officials and "expressed regret for any unhappiness that had been caused to Chinese people by the ... honorary doctorate to the Dalai Lama". But she said the degree would not be withdrawn.