Forget top-up fees. Over dinner at the Universities UK conference last week some university heads were preoccupied with a more weighty issue - the scrabble for the mantle of coolest vice-chancellor. Eric Thomas, vice-chancellor of Bristol University, has already acquired a rock'n'roll reputation by swearing in The Times Higher . But he was keen to bolster this with the revelation that he took 20 friends to a Rolling Stones gig this summer. His chum Michael Arthur, vice-chancellor of Leeds University, was one of them, but he seemed more alert to the possibility that the ageing Mick Jagger might not cut the mustard in the kudos stakes. Professor Arthur, who has been known to keep his students awake with his guitar playing, nonchalantly dropped his "friends" the Kaiser Chiefs into the conversation as he poured the wine.