It used to be the old school tie that opened doors. Today, however, it seems to be football scarves that provide a leg-up. A case in point was last Wednesday's Westminster party to launch Exeter University's £4,000 student bursary scheme. Its support scheme is little different from that of many other institutions. So how did Exeter persuade Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, and Alan Johnson, the Higher Education Minister, to attend the launch? All became clear when Mr Clarke revealed that he and Steve Smith, the vice-chancellor of Exeter, are both Norwich City supporters, and they discuss football when they have exhausted higher education topics.