Tale of two cities

October 26, 1995

Oh well, there go Brian Roper's chances of becoming a big wheel in the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals while Gareth Roberts is chairman.

It is not that the North London v-c's almost Maoist exercise in self-criticism, recanting on his previous support for a rapid expansion in student numbers, upset Professor Roberts - although he made his disagreement clear when he followed Mr Roper as a speaker at Labour's Skegness education conference last weekend. What really got him was being described as "the vice chancellor of Leeds University" when he actually runs Sheffield University. Leeds-Sheffield rivalry may lack the venom that characterises Manchester-Liverpool or Swansea-Cardiff relations, but, said Professor Roberts, "I can think of no more mortal insult". Mr Roper has done nothing for his chances with the Labour party either - shadow education secretary David Blunkett, MP for Sheffield Brightside, was in complete agreement with his local vice chancellor.

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