Beady eyes were trying to identify who had purchased a new suit at a reception held this week by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
Today is the deadline for applications to succeed Sir Brian Fender as chief executive, and vice-chancellors were gossiping about who will take over.
Sir Martin Harris, vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester and a former chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, is believed to have thrown his hat in the ring.
Other names include the current president of the CVCP, the University of Southampton's Sir Howard Newby.
Ivor Crewe of the University of Essex cleverly sidestepped the question of whether he had applied. Roderick Floud of London Guildhall University remained tight-lipped.
But onlookers were unable to check whether the favourite, Sir David Watson, of the University of Brighton, was sartorially prepared for interview - he remained at the university for a professorial lecture.