The THES Diary

November 13, 1998

Union dues

Financial difficulties at the Association of University Teachers have brought out the good Samaritan in fellow lecturers' union Natfhe, itself no stranger to cash-flow problems.

A Pounds 60,000 deficit forecast for the AUT this year - the third year of deficit - has meant belts are being tightened especially in the area of "executive expenses", which in the past two years have risen more sharply than any other expenses.

Natfhe, expecting a surplus this year and next, has offered the AUT an interest-free loan - a case of tables turning. Earlier this year, AUT general secretary David Triesman warned his members of the dangers should the unions merge as Natfhe's poor finances could undo them.

Publican education

What is it about further education chiefs and the hospitality business? First, sacked Stoke College principal Neil Preston sought refuge in the pub trade with his friend Helen Chandler, the college's former marketing and programme planning director, while both were on sick leave. Now comes news that champagne-loving Roger Ward, who left the Association of Colleges in disgrace last year, wants to open a restaurant. He threatens a 10 per cent discount for all Natfhe members and Times Supplements staff.

If TOTP is too tame..

The Open University's reputation for studious but soporific late-night television is to be shattered. BBC bigwigs thought a new OU series, to accompany the course "Culture, Identity and Power in the Roman Empire", so exciting that they gave it a prime-time Friday night spot.

Featuring Monty Python and Asterix, it has been renamed The Romans in Britain and will kick off next month at 7.30pm - the same time as Top of the Pops.

One-man race

Nominations close today for the chairmanship of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, to be announced next week.

As Labour has found recently, key posts of this kind are best sorted with minimum fuss. Just as well. With a few days to go, Howard Newby, Southampton University's vice-chancellor, was the only candidate.

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