Heard but unsaid

April 30, 1999

Surprise all round at Senate House last week at the inaugural lecture of one of Britain's best-known historians. With the bold words "I have never been afraid to speak my mind", David Cannadine mounted a ferocious attack on the underfunding and bureaucracy of British higher education.

But the controversial second part of the lecture, published in The THES and elsewhere, concerning the creation of a supercampus in Bloomsbury, never came. So what happened? Did someone blow a gasket? David Cannadine is not, as he said, one to be repressed. And his vice-chancellor, Graham Zellick, who chaired the lecture, told the audience how keen he was to join his new professor in the trenches with sword drawn. All lips are sealed - but the idea is out and about.


There was standing room only at the House of Commons for the Public Accounts Committee's postmortem on Halton College this week. Everyone who is anyone in FE was there to hear the tough committee of MPs grill Michael Bichard, permanent secretary at the Department for Education and Employment. All were engrossed - except for one audience member at the back, who remained fast asleep throughout.


Can it be true? Brian Fender, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, is to try to avoid creating any more special funding initiatives. "I promise I am really going to try - no more initiatives," Fender told a Southern Universities Management Statistics Services meeting last week. "The trouble is, no one seems to believe it."


There were more than 500 requests for entry forms and 82 manuscripts were submitted for the Dundee Book Prize, launched by Dundee University and the local City of Discovery campaign, which offered Pounds 6,000 plus publication to the author of the best unpublished novel set in Dundee. The winner, for Tumulus, is Andrew Murray Scott - a lecturer in professional writing at Dundee College, who plans to celebrate in traditional style: "I will probably have a wee malt to get over the shock of winning."

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