Looking out for Number 11

January 14, 2005

National newspapers are revelling in the apparent ego battle between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the Chancellor. But it seems that senior figures in the higher education world have already decided which of the two men they need to butter up. Rumour has it that Mark Walport, the forthright director of the Wellcome Trust, established close links with Mr Brown and often pops into No 11.

Meanwhile, further up the country, Alan Gilbert, the new Australian president of Manchester University and another man not known to mince his words, set up private talks with the Chancellor at the end of last year. This cosy chat certainly seems to have paid off. During a more public visit to Manchester at the end of last week, Mr Brown declared that he was certain that the university was about to become "one of the great world leaders of the future".

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