• UT receives high international rankings and "best buy" in education

    UT has been ranked one of the world’s top universities this week, and a “best buy” in higher education, by two organizations that track university data world wide. 

    The Center for World University Rankings, based out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has ranked UT 26th among 100 universities across the globe. The University was also ranked 20th on its patent output and 24th in quality of faculty. UT ranked 56th on the employment of its graduates and 84th on its influence relative to other colleges.

    The list puts UT in seventh place among U.S. public universities mentioned in the rankings. Other Texas universities mentioned in the study, but ranked below UT, were University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas A&M University-College Station and Rice University in Houston.

    The second accolade, finding UT was one of the “Best Buys in Higher Education”, was located in the Fiske Guide to Colleges. The guide is complied by a former education editor of the New York Times every year, and does not rank colleges once they are selected for a title.

    The “best buy” ranking was found by judging the relative quality of faculty and resources at UT with the cost of attending the University. In-state students, which make up about 90 percent of the UT student body, currently pay about $4,900 a semester for tution. Non-residents pay close to $16,000 a semester. 

    The University announced this spring it would be restructuring its non-academic functions, and UT officials say this move will help keep tution costs low for students. However, some staff and faculty argue that the current restructuring will result in lost job opportunities and raise costs for students in the long run.

  • LIVEBLOG: Texas House meets to discuss abortion legislation in second special session

    9:15 p.m. — The Texas House tentatively approved Rep. Jodie Laubenberg's abortion bill on Tuesday, following more than 10 hours of debate. The House must vote on the bill one more time before it can be sent to the seante.

    Representatives tried to apply more than 20 amendments to HB2, but they were all tabled.

    The Texas House will meet again Wednesday, at 10 a.m.

    2:00 p.m. — House republicans have now turned down multiple amendments to Rep. Jodie Laubenberg's bill.

    Amendments have sought to allow abortion after 20 weeks in case of incest or rape and expand the restraints of when a women's life and health is in danger. Several lawmakers claimed the bill was unconstitutional, and would not survive a court battle.

    Laubenberg has refused every amendment offered thus far. The majority of House Republicans have managed to defeat many amendments. 

    11:55 a.m. — Rep. Senfroncica Thompson's amendment, which would have allowed for abortion after 20 weeks in the case of rape or incest, was tabled by the Texas House.

    11:29 a.m. — Though Rep. Laubenberg, R-Parker, has said repeatedly she would not accept any amendments to her bill, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, has filed an amendment that would allow for abortion after twenty weeks in case of incest or rape.

    "I don't want [women] to have to use a coat hanger," Thompson said. "I want them to have a choice."

    Laubenberg, however, has said repeatedly she does not want her bill to be amended. 

    Thompson is currently taking questions on her amendment.

    10:47 a.m. — After Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, laid out her bill before the entire Texas House,  Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, spent more than 10 minutes asking Laubenberg questions.

    Farrar criticized the bill at several points, calling the exceptions in the bill "narrow." She also crticized Laubenberg's responses to her questions.

    "I am not asking about your opinon on her decision," Farrar said at one point. "I am asking about her health and safety."

    "I'm the one asking questions," she said later. "That didn't answer my question."

    10:23 a.m. — The Texas House convened at 10 a.m., and is expected to begin discussing abortion legislation and House Bill 2.

    HB2 would ban abortion after 20 weeks, increase regulations at abortion clinics statewide and add additional restrictions to the handling of abortion-inducing drugs.

    The bill was filed by Rep. Jodie Laubenber, R-Parker. Last week, it passed through the House State Affairs Committee after more than nine hours of testimony. More than 1,000 people registered to testify, but less than 100 had the opportunity to.

    Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, told the members of the committee he would attempt to add amendments to the bill that would set aside state appropriations to help abortion clinics pay for the increased regulations that many fear would close clinics otherwise.

    Laubenberg has said she would prefer her bill go unamended.

    Follow Bobby Blanchard on Twitter @bobbycblanchard.

  • The Morning Texan: House returns to discuss abortion legislation

    The National Weather Service is predicting Tuesday will be a hot day, with temperatures hitting 98 degrees. Unlike Monday, there is not a chance for rain on Tuesday.

    At 10 a.m., the Texas House will convene and discuss House Bill 2, which is abortion legislation that would ban abortion after 20 weeks and place additional restrictions and regulations on abortion practices. At 11 a.m., the Texas Senate will convene. 

    Here is some morning reading:

    Yesterday's most read article: The Daily Texan live-blogged a senate committee hearing on a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks, place additional restrictions on clinics in Texas and add regulations to abortion-inducing drugs. This bill, Senate Bill 1, is identical to House Bill 2. After more than 13 hours, the committee recessed and did not vote on the bill. Check out our live-blog.

    What you have to read: Religious views on abortion differ greatly, but many go unheard. Check out the religious views on abortion from Muslim, Jewish and Hindu communities.

    In case you missed it: Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced on Monday he would not be running for governorship in 2014.