University friends: By chance or by design?

Bristol University student accommodation Image copyright Bristol University
Image caption Bristol University aims for diverse student communities

Students often end up making lifelong friendships with the fellow "freshers" they find themselves placed next to in their accommodation - but what determines who lives along side each other?

BBC research using freedom of information (FOI) laws has revealed some universities have perhaps surprising policies on how rooms are allocated.

One important educational benefit of going to university is learning to mix with, and getting to know, a more diverse range of people with different life experiences.

On the other hand, starting university can be a stressful event made easier if the students are surrounded by the kind of people they are familiar with, or likely to get on with.

Both are valid considerations, but they can be conflicting priorities, and different institutions resolve this dilemma in different ways.

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Home Office takes years to answer information requests

The Home Office
Image caption The Home Office admits some FOI delays were "unacceptable"

There have been 192 freedom of information cases which the Home Office has taken longer than a year to answer in the past three years.

In seven of these the Home Office spent more than two years dealing with the request for information.

Read full article Home Office takes years to answer information requests

Action urged over Whitehall FOI failings

The Home Office
Image caption The Home Office is beset by serious delays in many FOI cases

Major government departments are continuing to demonstrate persistent delays and unhelpfulness in their responses to information requests, according to research conducted by the BBC.

Last June we reported on how the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Cabinet Office were frequently criticised by the Information Commissioner for their inadequate handling of FOI applications.

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Surge in Britons getting another EU nationality

Shoppers in Oxford Street Image copyright EPA

There has been a surge in UK citizens acquiring the nationality of another EU country since the Brexit referendum, according to data obtained by the BBC.

In 2017 a total of 13,141 UK citizens obtained the nationality of one of the 18 member states from which the BBC has received figures.

Read full article Surge in Britons getting another EU nationality

Revealed: Letter that stopped Jeremy Thorpe giving evidence

Jeremy Thorpe Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Gay rights campaigners protested about the way homosexuality was treated in the trial

It was dubbed "the trial of the century" - a dashing, charismatic political leader accused of conspiring to murder his former gay lover in a bizarre, ill-fated plot.

But why did Jeremy Thorpe - leader of the Liberal Party and pillar of the Establishment - not go into the witness box to defend himself from charges he vehemently denied?

Read full article Revealed: Letter that stopped Jeremy Thorpe giving evidence

Why officials in Labour government pushed 'dash for diesel'

Diesel fuel pump

As Chancellor Philip Hammond considers tougher budget measures on diesel cars, documents obtained by the BBC reveal how the "dash for diesel" was encouraged by presentational considerations.

The shift to promoting diesel vehicles under the last Labour government can be seen as a textbook example of the law of unintended consequences.

Read full article Why officials in Labour government pushed 'dash for diesel'

'Register to vote' rush blocked Theresa May's majority

Young voters Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn targeted younger voters

Why did Theresa May lose her overall majority in the general election earlier this year?

There were lots of contributory factors, of course, but here is one that so far has been comparatively ignored - the rush of hundreds of thousands of young voters who used the government's online system to join the electoral register after the election was called.

Read full article 'Register to vote' rush blocked Theresa May's majority

FOI failings at the heart of government

Cabinet Office

Some major government departments have a record of frequent and persistent delays and unhelpfulness in their handling of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

This is clear from a new BBC analysis of decisions issued in the past two years by the Information Commissioner's Office which has repeatedly condemned the Cabinet Office, Home Office and Ministry of Justice for their "poor", "disappointing" and "unacceptable" treatment of FOI applications.

Read full article FOI failings at the heart of government

Local voting figures shed new light on EU referendum

EU referendum voting night

The BBC has obtained a more localised breakdown of votes from nearly half of the local authorities which counted EU referendum ballots last June.

This information provides much greater depth and detail in explaining the pattern of how the UK voted. The key findings are:


The national picture

Education

Read full article Local voting figures shed new light on EU referendum

CIA fears about 1980s Labour 'threat' revealed

Denis Healey
Image caption Denis Healey was accused in the papers of attacking US policies

The Labour Party is "in the hands of urban leftists given to ideological extremes with only fringe appeal".

That isn't an assertion about today's politics. It was the verdict of the US Central Intelligence Agency on Labour back in 1985, in a memo for the agency's director on the early phase of Neil Kinnock's leadership.

Read full article CIA fears about 1980s Labour 'threat' revealed