Taking a title role

February 12, 1999

Just when you thought he was about to retire, Lord Dearing steps into the breach once more, with impeccable civil service tact, to take on all those difficult education jobs that no one else seems to want. Last month appointed the first patron of the Institute of Learning and Teaching for higher education, this month he becomes chair of the University for Industry.

One of his first UfI jobs may be to help decide its future title - specifically, whether it will remain a "university" despite not being one. The views of his 1997 committee of inquiry into higher education were clear: "Titles incorporating the word university must be applied consistently and be widely understood in the UK and overseas."

But now they have become fuzzier. "The name is an important issue," he said. "And I want to take advice and a little time."


A British Council campaign to recruit more Australian students to British universities has taken a startling turn. It seems one of the "seriously imaginative Australians" chosen to encourage young Aussies to sign up is Malcolm Turnbull, chairman of the Australian Republican Movement and the lawyer who defended Spycatcher author Peter Wright. Joining him are novelist David Malouf and Alison Chew, a Sydney University PhD student specialising in identifying dead people through their dental structure.


Maggie Woodrow, project director of the European Access Network, was not impressed by the Higher Education Funding Council's new method of calculating social class by postcode - until she heard it describe the likely occupant of her own house - an "ageing professional".


Postcode systems of identifying student class caused concerns among delegates to a Society for Research into Higher Education conference this week. Bob Osborne, professor of applied policy studies at Ulster University, suggested that rewards for universities recruiting higher numbers of people from low-income groups could see parents settling in high-income postcode areas to ensure their children attend good schools, but moving to poorer postcodes in time for university applications.

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