Takes one to know one

October 8, 1999

The chairman of Conservative Future, Gavin Megaw, has hit out at Labour Student careerists for ruining the National Union of Students by failing to mount effective campaigns against tuition fees. Speaking at the party's conference this week, Mr Megaw claimed that because many NUS leaders hoped to become Labour MPs or otherwise work for the party in the future, they were wary of conflict with the government. No doubt the ambitious Mr Megaw can put this point to former NUS leaders personally when he meets them in the Commons in his new post as media officer for the Conservative Party.


Birkbeck College, London, is taking seriously its commitment to widen participation in higher education by students from under-represented groups. Specialising in adult part-time education, the college this week set the pace for other universities. Tim O'Shea, master of Birkbeck, revealed his secret - expanding the drinks menu at his welcome party for incoming students. In previous years, Birkbeck has offered a glass of wine to its freshers; this year, it threw open its doors to lager drinkers.


Here's a new one for those delicate first-years attending freshers' fair. A student at St Aidan's College, University of Durham, wants to set up a devil-worshipping society. According to the university's online student newspaper, third-year philosophy student Mark Kelly has already made a name for himself advertising black masses on Friday 13. Recent reports have highlighted Durham as a Christian Union hotbed. Are students getting all millennial or is it yet another sign of fatigue with conventional student politics?


Listen possums, those lovely people at Melbourne University are honouring one of its best-known and most colourful alumni, Dame Edna Everage. Barry Humphries, who first brought Dame Edna to life during his time studying arts and law at the university in the 1950s, will receive the honorary degree on the dame's behalf. He will join a distinguished list of Melbourne doctorates, including the Queen Mother and the Dalai Lama.

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Recent controversy over the future directions of both Stanford and Melbourne university presses have raised questions about the role of in-house publishing arms in a world of commercialisation, impact agendas, alternative facts – and ever-diminishing monograph sales. Anna McKie reports

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