The THES Diary

September 25, 1998

Addicted to the match

Vice-chancellors and higher education minister Baroness Blackstone got a rare taste of student life when they stayed in halls of residence at Manchester University for their annual retreat last week. Not that they had much choice. Most of the city's hotels were fully booked, thanks to Manchester United's tie against Barcelona - a fact not lost on Leslie Wagner, Leeds Metropolitan University vice-chancellor, who skipped the conference dinner to attend the match.

In good Spirits Zone

Angst among Millennium Dome organisers over who will come forward to bankroll the Spirit Zone could be over. According to the New Millennium Experience Company, the firm charged with building and kitting out the dome, talks are under way with various "religious bodies" and a deal could soon be announced. "We are hoping for multi-faith sponsorship," says an NMEC spokesman. "It looks thoroughly promising at the moment - we could say that the Spirit Zone is off our worry list!" Verbal wastage

Chris Hughes, the new chief executive of the Further Education Development Agency, has been announcing details of his plans to make the beleaguered agency into "the leading authority on lifelong learning". As FEDA's public funding is steadily reduced, he has been charged with making FEDA more commercially viable. He should have a good insight: he was an adviser to the select committee that said that FEDA was a waste of money.

Bright ideas on tap

Amazing what a drop of Guinness can do. At his inauguration as president of the University of Limerick, Roger Downer spelled out his hopes for the modern university: "Rather than an elitist and remote ivory tower, I would like the university to serve as an intellectual equivalent of the village pub - a place where people gather to discuss and explore ideas, discover new truths and insights and from which new and creative ideas flow out into the community to enrich and enhance the world in which we live." Just so long as the students don't think the next morning it was all blarney.

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