Home truths

February 4, 2000

Reassuring news for staff at Liverpool John Moores University, where rumours have been flying since vice-chancellor Peter Toyne announced his retirement: his replacement will not be Mike Fitz-gerald. The scouse ex-vice-chancellor of Thames Valley has been accompanying Toyne around Liverpool and is booked to give a seminar at John Moores. But he denies a comeback. "I did the v-c thing for seven and a half years," he says. "I never want to go back."

COMMITTED TO CLOSURE

Bernie Grant is pictured on the front of Middlesex University's newsletter launching the National Museum and Archives of Black History and Culture and praising the university for its "total commitment". What a shame that the Haringey MP is now likely to have little to do with the university. It has decided to close all its campuses in his constituency.

LIKE TO SWINDON A STAR?

Ground control to all you space scientists. The Natural Environment Research Council is advertising for a head of Earth observation. The individual must be "able to demonstrate a high level of diplomacy" - to deal with other life forms? And the location is "flexible" - Mars, Jupiter, an orbiting space platform? Still, the successful candidate is sure to come back to earth. They will be expected to attend meetings in Swindon.

DECIDEDLY UNDECIDED

Waiting on tenterhooks to hear where the new synchrotron source will be sited? Even the Office of Science and Technology was left in the dark about last week's decision by trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers not to make a decision. Whitehall sources say OST officials only found out five minutes before Mr Byers postponed his announcement on where to locate the project. Mr Byers is apparently "very unhappy" with the OST's handling of the scheme.

WHAT'S ON THE SOAPBOX?

Last week Posh Spice, this week David Blunkett. The secretary of state for education will address the nation on Parkinson tonight - along with comedian Alexei Sayle. But forget the idea that senior ministers are rarely interviewed by the big guns of television. Only last Sunday Mr Blunkett appeared on GMTV - at about 7am.

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